Landlords threatening to evict tenants on the coldest day of the year in response to the government’s recent housing announcement is typical in a country that treats housing as a business investment.
The attitudes that some landlords have, of threatening to evict people speaks to the belief that because they have such power that they can use it in such a way to treat people like this. Housing isn’t a game, or a business, it’s a universal human right.
“Successive National and Labour governments are both responsible for the housing crisis due to a lack of regulation, taxes and policies that actually should protect housing as a human right” says coordinator with Auckland Action Against Poverty Brooke Pao Stanley. Under investment in public housing means that we now find ourselves in a position where landlords have too much power and are willing to vet it out on renters, many of whom are already in vulnerable positions. When you create conditions for landlords to have such power, of course you’re going to have some of them acting like spoiled privileged brats.
It’s hard enough as it is for people and whānau across New Zealand as we have a public housing waitlist of over 20,000 households and some of the highest rents in the world. Even people who are working, some families with multiple jobs are struggling to pay rent. We have so many whānau in emergency and transitional housing and we have a whole generation of children being raised in emergency and transitional housing. This is unacceptable in a country that prides itself on being some kind of egalitarian safe haven. We’ve got some deeply entrenched attitudes and problems here and if not addressed will only get worse.
We’ve been calling for greater investment in universal public housing, in papakainga solutions, in devolving resources to iwi. If we invest in housing as a human right then it also helps regulate investors, as they wouldn’t see it as a way of making money and that’s what we need in this country. Landlords shouldn’t have the power to use housing as a way of getting back at the government, as it’s the people who will be most affected.