Over 40 people were in attendance at Ōtaki College to hear Labour spokesperson on Housing, Phil Twyford speak to a public meeting, opened by MP Adrian Ruawhe. with Ōtaki’s Penny Gaylor.
Initially the audience listened to three speakers talk about housing.
First, Kylie Gardner talked of how Gardner Homes operated. Their kaupapa is to buy land, subdivide and build affordable quality houses in Ōtaki. In a decade, they’ve successfully built at the beach (Byron Brown Place) and in Moy place, Rangiuru road, and are now at work in Kirk Street, and will soon start in Te Manuao road. Their target is to build quality homes with a $350,000 budget for house, fixtures and fittings & land.
Lt. Sarah Green from Kapiti Salvation Army spoke of their work in Paraparaumu in emergency housing. They have 18 units available for single people, all occupied, with 25 on the waiting list. She discussed options for people at the bottom of society, painting a depressing picture of people in need. Kapiti, she reflected is in the same position Auckland was several years ago: there’s nowhere for homeless families in Kapiti. Houses are now selling $80,000 above valuation. “The Sallies can’t help homeless families” was her plaintive message.
Councillor Penny Gaylor spoke of the situation in Ōtaki. KCDC offers Social Housing for over-55s, which is means-tested and designed for people who aren’t in full-time employment and have less than $36,000 in the bank. KCDC has 118 council flats, of which half are in Ōtaki. They’re energy-efficient, well insulated and well-maintained, costing $96-$137/week. There are currently 70 on the waiting list. The picture Gaylor painted was of KCDC as a caring, responsive landlord.
Phil Twyford, Labour MP for Te Atatu invited the audience to share their observations on housing today. Over 20 people spoke. Points arising:
- State Advances were once there ‘ for people that the private sector wouldn’t help’. Several people thought their demise was regrettable.
- No provision for housing for the elderly
- Housing in Ōtaki is no longer affordable
- There are no rental properties available
- The expressway will only make things worse.
- There is no emergency housing available
- Iwi want to develop sustainable housing near the marae, aimed at first-time buyers, social contract issues and communal living.
Having listened to discussion from the floor, Twyford spoke of his assessment of today’s problems.
The ‘Auckland problem’ is spreading to engulf the country. There’s a shortfall of 40,000 houses in Auckland. Cashed-up Aucklanders are coming to Wellington & Kapiti , shutting out locals, driving up house prices.
It wasn’t always this way. Once NZ had the highest rate of home ownership in the world. Not any longer, as more people are driven to renting, unable to meet rising house prices.
Renting a house gives you few rights. You can be ‘booted out’ in 90 days. The average tenure is only 10 months. Much of the rental housing stock is poor quality – cold, damp & mouldy. 42,000 children are hospitalised annually, which is near epidemic proportions.
State Housing is part of the problem; currently only 4% of Kiwis live in state houses. The government is ideologically opposed to state houses, and wants to sell 20,000 more, believing that ‘the market’ will solve the problem. Twyford disagrees.
His proposal is that we return to the days of Norman Kirk when affordable houses were built with State Advances assistance. Twyford wants to build 100,000 affordable houses for first-time buyers. Costing over $1 billion, he says this will stimulate growth, and economic development in the regions.
Labour, he says will encourage councils to play a greater role, making it easier for developers to build more houses.
“It’s a national scandal that we don’t have enough emergency housing” he said. “We need a safety net. Labour will make it a priority to end homelessness”.
At this point, we adjourned to the staff-room where we were treated to scrumptious desserts and a cup of tea, and a chance to put right the wrongs of housing.
“A stimulating evening,” said one observer.