When National announced plans to privatise state houses, they tried to reassure us. The houses would only be sold to charities, they said. And they would have to be used as social housing, rather than simply demolished or flicked on.
Not any more:
The Government is set to loosen a requirement that former state houses be kept as low-income rentals for those most in need.
The move comes amid calls for it to sweeten the deal for potential buyers of up to 8000 Housing New Zealand Corporation (HNZC) homes.
It is also talking up the likely role of property developers, as one of the countries biggest social agencies walks away from plans to bulk-buy former state houses.
They're also planning to spend $1.5 billion doing up these houses before they sell them at a loss:
Finance Minister Bill English has confirmed the Government will need to spend $1.5 billion upgrading state houses as they are sold to social housing providers.
But he said the money would not be spent in one year.
Mr English conceded many state houses were not up to standard and had not been properly maintained.
He said the cost of deferred maintenance had risen to $1.5 billion and that the matter had been raised during discussions with social agencies considering buying state houses.
So, a policy of "these houses are not fit for purpose so we will sell them cheap to other providers" has become a policy of "these houses are not fit for purpose, so we will fix them, then sell them cheap to speculators who will demolish them or flick them on". Which makes you wonder why they're bothering with the second bit. If they're going to fix the houses, why not keep them?
But this policy was never about better provision. Instead, it has always been about selling state houses, even if they have to pay to give them away. Its about pillaging the state for the benefit of their donors and cronies, and abandoning the government's obligation to provide social housing. And they seem intent on pushing on with it, even if it costs them billions.