Monday, June 22, 2015


Since coming to power in 2008, the National government has sold more than a thousand state houses and tightened access to the remainder considerably. The net result? People not getting the assistance they need:

Families in urgent need of a state house are waiting twice as long compared to 18 months ago, Labour says.

The new figures also show an applicant waited 1,055 days to get into a house - although officials say that came after the person rejected a property because it had birds nesting in a nearby tree.

Labour's Social Development spokeswoman Carmel Sepuloni said the information released highlighted the struggles of people who often had nowhere else to go.

"The average wait time for those in urgent need of a state house was 55 days in September 2013. New documents released under the OIA show that number had blown out to 129 days by March 2015. That's disgraceful.

She's right: it is disgraceful. The purpose of Housing New Zealand is to make sure everyone has a roof over their heads. And under National, they are failing. And its not just a problem for Housing New Zealand and its Minister, because this failure imposes costs on all of us. Kids without a home are less likely to go to school (or switch schools often, and risk falling through the cracks). People without a home are more likely to end up in hospital. What Bill English saves by penny-pinching on state housing, we pay for in higher health, education and welfare costs. It would be interesting to see if they've ever bothered to quantify those externalities, and if not, why not.