Paula Bennett noncommittal on state house sales

  • 02/11/2014

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett has shied away from a suggestion the Government could sell up to a quarter of state houses.

The Government still wants to be the dominant provider of state housing despite moves to offload the service to other providers, such as the Salvation Army, church and community groups, Ms Bennett told TVNZ's Q+A today.

She denied the Government was trying to get out of state housing.

"What we're saying though is do we have to provide all of the houses? So we want to be in social housing and subsidising and providing and stepping up and doing our part."

Housing New Zealand rents about 69,000 state houses to about 200,000 people.

Ms Bennett said a suggested figure of selling off 25 percent was "quite high" but she would not say what figure the Government was thinking of.

She would not put a number on how many houses it wanted from other providers.

Ms Bennett said selling off state houses – an $18 billion asset – was different from last term's partial selldown of state-owned power companies.

"Because it's not necessarily about the money, it's all about the people."

But Ms Bennett then went on to say the Government had to get a good deal for the taxpayer.

About 4300 people are waiting for a state house.

Ms Bennett said state house tenants generally paid about 25 percent of their income on rent.

A voucher system would see them have their rent with one of the new landlord providers subsidised by the Government by the same amount.

Someone in Auckland could see their rent subsidised by about $250 a week, she said.

NZN

source: newshub archive