A couple of months ago, stories about people living in cars after being forced out of state housing and force dinto debt by WINZ hit the headlines. Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett responded by announcing a policy to pay people to move out of Auckland. It was the usual National Party cynicism - the policy had already been announced back in January, so it was just a spin job aimed at creating the impression of action rather than the real thing. So how well has this policy worked in practice? Badly:
The Government's $5000 offer to flee Auckland grant is off to a slow start with just 12 families taking it up after the first month - one of which was homeless.
In total, $54,508 has been paid out, covering things like moving costs, bond, rent in advance and letting fees for the dozen families - collectively consisting of 32 people.
Assistance has been approved for a further 10 applicants pending confirmed moving dates and verification of costs - that'll move 20 more out of Auckland.
It turns out that people aren't actually that willing to uproot their lives and abandon their friends and support networks just because it is convenient for the government for them to do so. Or, to put it another way, people aren't arbitrarily mobile "labour units" to be shoved whereever Paula Bennett wants them to go. Who'd have thunk it?