Monday, February 27, 2017

The solution is obvious

The latest sign of the housing crisis: National has blown its emergency housing budget:

The Government has had a massive blowout in emergency housing grants, spending almost four times its annual budget in just three months.

As part of an overall $345m investment in emergency housing, the Government only budgeted $2m per year for an estimated 1400 emergency housing grants - which pay for urgent motel stays for families in need.

But in the December quarter alone, the Ministry of Social Development spent $7.7m on emergency housing grants.

There were 8860 grants in the final three months of 2016 - which is more than six times the Government’s expectations.

What this tells us is that the government had no idea how bad this problem is. Which is unsurprising, given that they actively deny it exists, and go out of their way to avoid measuring it. It also tells us how much of a disincentive to applying WINZ's old policy of treating emergency assistance as a loan (rather than a grant) was - and how much real need that single vicious bureaucratic barrier kept hidden. But now they've been forced to drop it, that need is obvious - so obvious that WINZ is trying to shuffle it back under the carpet by cracking down on the number of grants they give out (i.e. denying people assistance they are legally entitled to).

As for the solution, it is obvious: build more state houses. But National won't do that - they'd rather pay greedy motel owners inflated rates than invest in New Zealand's future.