2016 Budget: Government’s low housing priority blasted by Labour MPs Su’a and Salesa
One of the main gaps in Bill English’s 2016 Budget is the lack of priority to address New Zealand’s housing crisis according to South Auckland MPs Su’a William Sio and Jenny Salesa. The housing crisis is especially severe on Auckland’s Pasifika community.
The lack of government action coupled with the plight of Pacific peoples is cause for Su’a calling out his fellow Samoan parliamentarian, Minister for Pacific Peoples, Peseta Sam Lotu I’iga. He is highly critical of Peseta’s lack of interest and action on behalf of the vulnerable Pacific community at the Cabinet level.
“I have asked him questions in parliament whether he’s taken up the matter with the Minister for Housing and he hasn’t,” Su’a told Pacific Guardians.
Records obtained by Pacific Guardians show that on 12th May 2016, Su’a issued two written questions on housing to Peseta.
Question 1: Has he made representation, if any, to the Minister of Housing about helping the number of Pacific people evicted from Housing NZ rental accommodation, if so when and how did he make that representation?
Question 2: Has he advocated to the Minister of Housing about growing the stock of affordable housing for Pacific families in need, and if so, when did he do so?
On 20 May, Peseta’s answers were:
Answer 1: As Minister for Pacific Peoples I have not made representations to the Minister of Housing about helping the number of Pacific people evicted from Housing NZ rental accommodation.
Answer 2: As Minister for Pacific Peoples I have not advocated to the Minister of Housing about growing the stock of affordable housing for Pacific families.
The answers are disappointing and highlights the “arrogance of this government who is out of touch with the issues that matters for most New Zealanders,” he said, “because they refuse to acknowledge there is a national housing crisis in the first place. At best their proposal to free up more land from local government will achieve about 1,100 new houses per year.
“Yet Westpac and other social housing providers have said that New Zealand needs to build up about 11,000 new houses per year.”
Home ownership has fallen to its worse record in several decades while Pacific home ownership is a tragic 16% at present he added.
At the housing crisis coalface, Mrs Jenny Salesa said the government’s recent responses show the lack of a plan because they have all been knee-jerk reactions. The latest, an offer of $5,000 for families to move out of Auckland.
“Paula Bennett’s [Social Housing Minister] offer of $5,000 to get homeless families out of Auckland is just a cynical, desperate ploy to look like she’s doing something about the housing crisis.
“Many of the people desperate for a home are working. They have children at local schools. They are part of communities. Paying them to walk away from a job and their support networks here and shift to a distant town is just not an option for many families.”
The other recent attempt was Ms Bennett’s emergency-housing-fund where “vulnerable, homeless families are being put up in motels, which is plunging them into unmanageable debt. They must eventually pay back to Work and Income the costs of their emergency housing stay at motels, which could be thousands of dollars,” said Ms Salesa.
Neither of these initiatives provided “answers…to get desperate families out of sleeping in cars or overcrowded garages before winter sets in.
“This is yet more evidence this Government’s housing policy is a shambles and is failing many New Zealand families. In eight years they’ve barely dented the more than 40,000 house shortfall which Auckland is facing let alone kept up with the extra 13,000 new homes needed each year just to keep up with population increases.”
She said a Labour government would solve the problem by “stop selling state houses and to build more homes.”