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Christchurch City Council subsidises building homes for the wealthy but refuses to rebuild council rental housing destroyed in the earthquakes

By   /  October 10, 2018  /  16 Comments

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It should make an uncomfortable juxtaposition for the mayor and councillors.

One week they vote an extra $220 million for a new rugby stadium without public consultation and the next they are consulting on whether they should give a $30 million loan to the council’s housing arm – the Otautahi Community Housing Trust – to build 130 more council rental homes. 

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It should make an uncomfortable juxtaposition for the mayor and councillors.

One week they vote an extra $220 million for a new rugby stadium without public consultation and the next they are consulting on whether they should give a $30 million loan to the council’s housing arm – the Otautahi Community Housing Trust – to build 130 more council rental homes. 

It’s clear where the mayor and councillors see their priorities for democratic input into major decisions.

The $30 million proposed loan, which must be repaid to the council on commercial terms, is both misdirected and wholly inadequate.

It is misdirected because the council itself should be building the homes rather than passing this responsibility to an unelected entity at arms length from democratic community control.

It is wholly inadequate because it would help rebuild only a small fraction of the council rental units so desperately needed and less than half the number which were destroyed in the earthquakes.

The desperate need is clear in the long waiting lists for council rental accommodation (552 in March this year) and state housing (750 in June this year) in Christchurch. This is evidenced on the ground by the high number of people living in cars, vans, caravans, garages, sheds, hopelessly overcrowded homes or sleeping rough.

House rents skyrocketed following the earthquakes and while the cost has plateaued recently this is at an unaffordable level for most families and tenants.

Most worryingly the council proposal reiterates several times – as some sort of holy mantra – that council housing must be provided at no cost to ratepayers. This relates to some historic decision made in a different time for different circumstances.

It has no relevance today in the housing crisis we face.

But while the council refuses to spend ratepayer dollars on rebuilding its rental housing it is happy to spend millions in rates rebates for property developers building luxury apartments in the city centre. (An OIA request shows $8.5 million in city centre residential rate rebates – a $15,000 ratepayer subsidy per unit – over the past 4 years)

So why is the council providing millions in ratepayer subsidies to house high-income earners but refusing a single rates dollar to house tenants and families on low incomes?

The situation defies any sort of logic. It makes no sense refusing to fund housing which brings in rental returns to the council but giving away millions to property developers to build houses which bring no return whatever to the council.

This is commercially stupid as well as morally repugnant and should be a matter of shame for the mayor and elected councillors.

In a letter to Keep Our Assets Canterbury on 21 June Deputy Mayor Andrew Turner, speaking on behalf of the mayor and councillors, said a proposal existed which “…would see funds made available to allow social housing rebuilding activity to bring stock back to greater than pre-earthquake levels within the short term…”

This proposed $30 million loan is the sad outcome of such a positive, hopeful message. It won’t even build half the homes needed to meet the pre-quake level.

Council needs to bring the same energy and determination to council rental housing as it has for a new rugby stadium.

It must provide the funds to immediately rebuild all council rental housing destroyed in the earthquakes and develop a long-term plan to meet the housing needs of all tenants and families in Christchurch. 

$200 million needs to be set aside to achieve this goal. It will be an investment which will bring the city economic and social returns.

If this means pushing out the timeline for the $473 million spend on a new rugby stadium then that will be the right thing to do.

Retaking control and responsibility for council housing from the OCHT should happen immediately as should cancelling rates rebates for property developers across the city.

The mayor and councillors should embrace their responsibility to build and maintain council rental housing for the good of the community as a whole.

We should expect no less.

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  1. countryboy says:

    “So why is the council providing millions in ratepayer subsidies to house high-income earners but refusing a single rates dollar to house tenants and families on low incomes? ”

    But…? You’re question is also the answer.

    Here’s another question/answer combo…
    mark munro? antony gough? dave henderson?
    mark munro. Property ‘developer’.He has a dead lizard smile and looooooves public money. antony gough is a kind of failed Liberace pea cock land lord with a huge ego/narcissism advantage over his prey, and loooooooooooves public money. Besties with lizard lips munro.
    dave henderson’s a ZAPPER.
    He’s the guy who performed the ‘bought the Ch Ch building housing the IRD then kicked them out’ stunt. A stunt that still appeals to linear thinking Right Wingers. He also ‘developed’ popular bar/cafe areas in Ch Ch then went off and dug a big hole in Frankton known locally as Henderson’s Hole which remained vacant and undeveloped for years.
    Interestingly, that hole is now filled with K Mart, The Warehouse and Pak N Save. Appropriate when one thinks about it. And they’re the first shops you see when arriving at Las Vegas of the South; Queenstown. Antipodean tack market, Skid Row on Ice and over priced shit hole of Nu Zillind. Queenstown is a little like a tourist abattoir, where tourists get slaughtered for their cash.
    dave henderson got bailed out by the, I think, bob parker admin. Using rate payer money.
    ZAPPERS could be, and I shit you not, seen running after Lada cars, beating them and kicking them along Hereford St for being ‘commie’ cars.
    dave henderson. Loooooooooooooooooves public money.

    And what? Dear reader, do you think the Ch Ch public think of all that?

    “Ruuuuuuuuuuugby….. Duh……? An’ that. “
    “Ruuuuuuuugby an’ that, aye?”

    ” Football, beer and above all Gambling filled up the horizon of their minds.
    To keep them in control was not difficult. ” George Orwell.

    I think George just answered another of your questions.
    Why the $220 million on a Thugby stadium?
    Rugby. A sadomasochistic cultist madness that turns over a nice dollar. Sells beer too, I bet.

  2. SPC says:

    A devotion to trickle down.

    Even the government is prioritising help to rebuild the stadium over help to rebuild the council flat stocks.

    Corporates first, middle class populist cause second, then later … the aged struggling with finding and affording private rentals.

  3. Grandma Moses says:

    I thought the corporations operating under the name “Military Industrial Complex” had agreed with Obama’s best NZ mates that the Mainland would be theirs, housed on, watered by and fed from only the best of the best.
    Did I get it wrong? Oh…silly me!
    New Zealand be on guard for the revenge of the Drumpf.

  4. Mjolnir says:

    “The $30 million proposed loan, which must be repaid to the council on commercial terms, is both misdirected and wholly inadequate.”

    And how would that loan and commrrcial interest rates be repaid I wonder??

    One guess: tenants of social housing would be expected to pay market or near market rentals. It’s a given.

  5. Zack Brando says:

    I voted for you John, I hope you run again. Lianne Dalziel is an embarrassment as a mayor, no loyalty for her old electorate of New Brighton either [speaks volumes] – I was over those ways a few weeks back and it differently needs more funding.

    Yani Johanson keeps getting reelected despite the ever increasing derelict state of Linwood, the growing number of homeless trolley pushers and his failed promises of reopening social housing sites.

    My City Councillor, Deon Swiggs (whom I didn’t vote for) has failed to fix the roads, the Cathedral is STILL a state [bulldoze it], broken buildings literally litter the central city, graffiti is out of control and an ever increasing number of homeless sit outside shopfronts with cardboard signs.

    Don’t even get me started on the water quality (once ChCh’s jewel) or the narrow mined narrowing of our inner-city roads. The CCC is constantly wasting money on frivolous projects nobody wants, while building consent costs skyrocket!

    Like the last Local Body Elections, I won’t be voting for any incumbents! It amazes me, especially when reading the comments posted on The Press and the CCC’s Facebook page that my fellow electors, though bitter, still keep voting for these useless clowns.

    I do get the sense though that these clowns are getting ever more fearful for their jobs!


    • saveNZ says:

      Vote them out and start really publicly protesting agains their decisions. The only way to stop the rot.

    • Michal says:

      I rate Yani as considerably way ahead of the rest of them. He didn’t vote for this shit and never has. he is on the left of the rest then by a mile. He is however disliked intensely by the rest of them and Dalziel well I have been at council meetings where she puts him down if he asks anything.

  6. saveNZ says:

    Sounds abhorrent. How do the councillors and council officials live with their decisions?

    You have to wonder, seriously what the F is going on, CHCH sounds similar to Auckland where the council/hanger ons/lobby groups, shell out the cash for stadium studies, America’s cup, big business and private developers, then for a fraction of cost can’t actually get their act together to provide the basics of decent, central and affordable accomodation for the poor (which they are in the process of social cleaning out of Auckland or to the outer areas), or even keep wanting to find ways to cost cut on the basics services of council such as libraries and the rubbish collections.. which is what most people want out of the council.

    • Zack Brando says:

      Unfortunately my fellow citizens, though complaining constantly, don’t vote or just keep voting the same clowns back in. Unfortunately Christchurch has the governance in deserves.

      It’s really is unfortunate for residents such as myself .. though I might be moving to Perth next year, so it might not be my problem for much longer.

  7. Johnnybg says:

    Yep, was living in a CCC flat that got trashed in the quakes, now at the mercy of the rip off private sector, fuck the stadium, us peasants want our council mud huts back. Maybe I’ll stand for mayor next time around, how about you, up for it again.

  8. Chris Gordon says:

    Excellent article John, crystal clear, I hope the council reads it. Grenfell in London was the same kind of arm’s length low cost arrangement. It should send a warning to all who shuffle off responsibility for housing onto distant entities. Similar subsidies for wealthy developers of course. Didn’t your PM recently talk about ‘kindness’ in politics? I don’t think she meant kindness to rugby fans.

    Housing (shelter) is a basic human right, as necessary as air. It’s not even about kindness. I hope

    • saveNZ says:

      Jacinda may have mean’t kindness to others, but in terms of NZ government policy it’s turning more into kindness to developers, banks, construction firms, big business and sports stadiums and marinas and other trophies for the super rich.

      But wait, soon we will hear it is all the middle classes fault that there is poverty… they need to pay more taxes…

      Sadly many of the lefties in particular the woke lefties are firing missiles at the wrong targets too and helping the right wingers keep their course undetected.

      after all we can’t expect the above developers, banks, construction firms, big business and sports stadiums and marinas to be forced to be held accountable, pay their own way with full taxes like everyone else and have their policies and products examined for the public interest – especially because the above aka developers, banks, construction firms and sports stadiums and marinas seem to be the most reckless, judging by leaky building/earthquake repairs/structural issues and the financial crises or the Stadium that never gets built but just haemorrhages money to consultants aka ChCH.

      Weird how those banks and construction now seem to be idolised and feted by government and local politicians. Although it’s hard to find a bank or large construction firm these days without an ex politician on it’s board who somehow aka tax working group fail to find anything amiss with rise of multinationals in NZ and the banking industry now responsible for NZ having our 2nd biggest exports from this country, being profits .

      Lucky how the middle classes are there to bail them out too if anything goes wrong in those industries. Also not much mention of the rising costs for super and welfare that the government policies seem to be creating http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1110/S00572/grey-power-warns-of-impact-of-high-immigration-rates.htm as shown by the government accounts that nobody picked up in the excitement of the fake headline about the 5 billion in surplus.

      Weird how consumers being asked to do more individually to reduce climate change, while the top 100 companies that produce 70+% of carbon emissions https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/jul/10/100-fossil-fuel-companies-investors-responsible-71-global-emissions-cdp-study-climate-change are not held to account by the world and we are even trying to encourage big polluting tourism into NZ with cruise ships https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/pollution-cruise-ships-po-oceana-higher-piccadilly-circus-channel-4-dispatches-a7821911.html and of course making the rate payers pay for it.

      So soon to be the rise of big business in social housing so that they can profit further. To do that of course have to get rid of the ‘mums and dads’ investors with rental properties in NZ, and state housing and replace that with Kiwibuild (aka Thatcher sell off of land), Grenfell style intermediaries for social housing, and rise of massive housing portfolios run by offshore business here. That’s going well, with a campaign by the left for the last 6 years against local mum and dad landlords – get them out and it’s only corporates in that field – and they can control it in their image.

      So I guess no superannuation for Mums and Dads in a few years, no mum and dad rental property for retirement but they may have Kiwisaver run by corporates and not guaranteed.

      So helpful for the financial industry that already 20% of everybody’s profits for retirement via Kiwisaver goes to the banks and financial advisors in fees, yearly!

      • SPC says:

        What campaign to get rid of mum and dad rental property investors?

        Have rental property minimum standards so people have healthier homes (and we use less power to heat them)?

        Better security for tenants?

        Bring in a CGT, so all income is taxed?

        • saveNZ says:

          There is a massive problem with scarcity of affordable housing, more housing being added in NZ (but much less housing than the amount of new people being added daily via immigration policies) and the new housing is more expensive and driving up the overall prices while at the same time you are often getting less (aka no yard, not so good for many people from the elderly to the family) and there are more fixed charges.

          AKA if you change from low rise to high rise housing which is the model being advocated by the dominant discourses, then the cost of building is more higher, cost of maintenance is much higher, fire costs much higher, more costs added aka lifts, risks to people living there much higher (falling off, fire, earthquakes, disasters). Social problems much higher.

          Body corporate fees are much higher than normal maintenance because of course there is the famous NZ profit margin for everything from washing the building to reroofing the roof, to maintaining fire alarms and lifts and all now requires permits, big money and much greater skills as you need scaffolding etc to just do the basics. Add a massive in crease in costs already under that model to the government for social housing or even the private landlord who rents out an apartment.

          All that means going forward both the cost of housing including high rise state housing and the cost of maintaining housing is going to increase significantly in NZ with the new push to go to this untried and unneeded model (apart from if you want more neoliberalism and consumerism) in NZ which has not been investigated at all, because the people who will profit from the new models are the powerful and they control the discourse.

          It’s become win win for the right to blame mums and dads for everything because the real agenda of neoliberalism and reason for shortage can remain hidden, plus attacking Mums and Dads who were told to buy a rental in the first place after Rogernomics to fund their retirement are now enemy no 1 in public discourse and funny enough hearing Labour and Greens making them enemy no 1 while ignoring neoliberalism and Rogernomics and actually making it 2.0 with cheaper labour and higher costs does not ring true and they stop voting for them (another win for the right).

          The houses that took part in the study for WOF had 90% fail rate for example. That’s pretty much the Natz ‘Meth’ standards that finds all houses non compliant and then surprise surprise we find out that it’s all bogus and the committee didn’t have a clue and vested interests in the process.

          Same with the WOF – NZ has huge diversity of housing and the compliance alone will create a nightmare plus lots of perfectly good homes and new cultural issues will create a nightmare of paperwork (Marae’s will have to pass the WOF), and will take housing out of circulation or create major issues for anyone taking somebody in.

          It also can lead to criminalising a person’s lifestyle Aka it will be difficult to lead a consumer less life. One of my favourite movies clearly not possible under a very prescribed new housing regime. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2DV-7QQwVs

          As for capital gains. The rich don’t even pay income taxes, the biggest corporates work like big Pharma are paying 3% taxes on turnover – there are so many ways now to ‘pretty’ legally avoid taxes.

          Meth dealers operate in NZ for 26 years and nobody in government notices they didn’t put in a tax return! Do you really think all the scammers being encouraged in NZ will diligently pay their capital gains???

          The biggest crimes and rackets are financial and NZ has the most issues now from massive profits being exported offshore.

          So no mention of tackling this from the tax working group via a financial and Robin Hood style taxes.

          A fairer tax on property, is stamp duty so the someone like Peter Thiel and all these ‘investors’ that now are NZ citizens but don’t live here while still getting all the rights as they do have to pay. Aka rather than zero taxes under the ‘family home’ rule he (and others) would have to shell out say $300,000 stamp duty on that $30 million home in Queenstown… like wise the Meth dealers and yep Mums and Dads too.

          Stamp duty is fairer because 1% of a modest house of $300k is around $3k so a stamp duty is much fairer and equitable to tax the rich as well as pretty fool proof way for the government gaining taxes from richer folks who can afford a property, than a capital gains taxes where only the honest will pay and there are so many loopholes the rich and dishonest will contribute nothing.

          There is desperate need for rental property in NZ and it has been designed to be like that and (like Rogernomics) in the panic really stupid poorly thought out decisions are being made about housing.

          Over 90% of Chorus workers don’t even get the minimum wages for Petes sake in a recent investigation!

          A lot of talk of rental security, but guess what, there is not rental security because there is no wage security in NZ – and people wages are so low and insecure they can’t even sign a rental lease for years because they might lose their job tomorrow and have to relocate and there is legally ways to just keep screwing people over and over again.

          The obsession on attaching mums and dads rental property is not addressing fundamental issues in NZ and instead hiding them and the lefties are inadvertently some of the biggest cheerleaders helping neoliberalism and much worse housing situations gaining more power and control over housing in NZ.

          • saveNZ says:

            This is the US, but NZ has similar ways to reduce personal taxes (if you have enough money and accountants to do so). There are many loopholes in taxation that generally only the super rich know about and it is even easier to avoid taxes if you are based offshore.

            “An example of this was in 2015, when Mr Kushner took home US$1.7 million in salary and investment gains, but his earnings were swamped by US$8.3 million in losses because of “significant depreciation” on his real estate.”


            President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner paid almost no income tax for years

            So any taxes relying on some sort of yearly taxable profits are bogus. These days for fairness you need to get the taxes straight away and have a set tax on the activity aka stamp duty so everyone has to pay it who can afford that activity (and those who can afford 30 million for a house or billions for commercial housing and land) pay more than the Mums and Dads who under a capital gains will probably have the opposite happening, which will further increase inequality in NZ in particular to help those that don’t even live here or have multiple offshore companies.

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