So there’s this piece on the SpinOff about homelessness in Hamilton despite the availability of an empty Housing New Zealand estate called Jebson Block, which has been slated for demolition:
In May, a letter was sent out to the few remaining residents to say three buildings in the area would be demolished: “The buildings are old and no longer fit for purpose,” it said, “and it would be uneconomic to repurpose and reconfigure them to bring them into line with the current standards.” It said the houses would be removed and the plots of land turned to grass “until decisions are made on the possible future use of the land”.
There’s a huge amount to digest in the piece and I recommend you read the whole thing, but I wanted to note this:
Why are they not placed in social housing? “What people are saying is that their housing need is now,” she says. Even then, private housing is difficult to come by. One general manager of a private rental company who asked not to be named in order to speak freely, said “the unfortunate thing is that the greater the need that the tenant has, the less likely they are to get private accommodation. Unless you’ve got a real social conscience, if you had to choose between eight people living in a car and a family with jobs going for the same house, you are more likely to put the people with a job into it. That’s the harsh reality.”
The government believes that the private sector can do a better job of social housing than the state can, so they’ve decided to deliberately run down the state’s supply of social housing and let the market take over. But they’ve done so in the middle of a property bubble in which there’s a growing scarcity of housing.
They’ve decided not to try and deflate the bubble. Politically and personally they probably can’t. The capital value of New Zealand property is rapidly approaching the trillion dollar mark, which is obviously insane and unsustainable, but it’s wealth accumulated by National’s core constituents, and their donor class and party members and the National caucus themselves, many of whom are members of the wealthiest families in the country, with most of that wealth tied up in farmland and property, which will have increased in value by hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars during the government’s tenure.
You can have a bubble in which the scarcity of housing causes hyperinflation and makes you and your fellow property investors rich, or rather richer, and you can have a policy of privitising the social housing stock and having the market house the displaced families but you can’t have both, which is why we have families living in cars while social housing estates stand empty. What a disaster.