End of a (state housing) era

Housing Minister Nick Smith has just announced a new “entity” within Treasury to transfer some of our 69,000 state houses to private organisations (coincidentally, on the same day as retrospective legislation on how housing trusts are taxed has had to be introduced). This is something we knew was coming since the Government eagerly greeted the Housing…More

Some thoughts on housing in New Zealand’s 2014 Budget

Housing didn’t get too much attention in this year’s Budget. The government had already signaled the increase of funds to community housing organisations. The actual amount given to them, compared to what they need to build to fill demand, is something I’ve yet to untangle. It’s also no surprise to see money allotted to MSD…More

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