Housing policy will destabalise life for children

Note: This piece is by Elinor Chisholm and Philippa Howden-Chapman and was published today  in the Dominion Post.  High transience rates for children at our poorest schools are, as the Dominion Post reported, a huge problem for children and teachers. Continuity of education and supportive relationships with teachers are critical for children’s educational performance. “Churn” is…More

Despite what you read, state tenants do not cheat the system

There has been welcome attention in recent days on the stigma attached to being a beneficiary in New Zealand. As Catriona McLennan explained in the Herald on Saturday, beneficiaries are discriminated against, and their fraud is disproportionately punished. She cites UK research showing that distorted media coverage of benefit issues results in distorted public perceptions: people imagine…More

There goes the neighbourhood: a look at reducing state housing in communities

One of Housing New Zealand’s goals is that “No community will have more than 15 percent state housing presence” [1]. I don’t know exactly what that means.  There is no standard definition of a community. There’s a great deal of difference between reducing the proportion of state housing in a block, in a neighbourhood, or…More

A tale of two WOFs

The poor quality of New Zealand’s rental housing is finally getting the attention it deserves. People seem to agree that our housing is having terrible effects on health, and that it’s not right. It never rains but it pours trials for regulating rental housing quality. Local and central government are presently conducting quite separate trials…More

Is it time for a New Zealand tenants’ union?

Recently, Adam McKibben in the UK newspaper The Independent made the following claim: When we look back through history, we see that all the major changes in British housing have taken place due to mass movements – tenants’ unions. He goes on to credit collective action by renters for forcing successive governments to improve housing quality,…More

A use for unclaimed tenants’ bonds

Note: This is a repost of an article I wrote with Philippa Howden-Chapman and Sarah Bierre in response to an article in the Dominion Post’s print edition about unclaimed bonds. It was published on 29 October 2013.  In Wellington alone, there is $1.18 million of unclaimed tenants’ bonds. Under the provisions of the Tenants Protection Act 1986,…More

Putting state housing subsidies in context

An article in the Herald last week claimed that “the cost to taxpayers of housing subsidies alone has reached almost $2 billion a year.” Given that the surrounding lines are about state tenants, it sounds like the author’s talking about the state housing system. If so, it’s simply not true.  Actually, just $662 million was…More

Every state tenant and his dog

State tenants should have the right to have dogs. This is because all New Zealanders have the right to have dogs. It was revealed yesterday that Housing NZ has tightened its policy on state tenants and dogs. Tenants will only be able to have dogs in “exceptional circumstances”. The new policy won’t affect people who…More

One Two Three Home

In a game I don’t get to play as much as I’d like, called Go home stay home, Home is the place that everybody wants to get to. The problem is, Home is guarded by the person who is “in”. You prowl the hiding places of the known world, peering at Home through gaps in…More