Tamaki housing scrap: 'They're shifting out the poor'

Tāmaki, in Auckland's east, will more than double its population in the next 15-20 years under an ambitious housing project.

Tāmaki Regeneration Company (TRC), jointly owned by the Government and Auckland Council, is demolishing existing state homes and building 7,500 new houses, including new social housing.

"Change is scary and it does come at a price, but ultimately we think this is the right thing to do.  Auckland's got a housing crisis, we need thousands more homes, this is contributing to that," says Tāmaki Regeneration's CEO, John Holyoake.

Niki Rauti, 62, is one of 25 tenants who have to move out to make way for the new development.

Although she's been living at her 14 Taniwha Street address in Glen Innes for 21 years, her time is up despite trying to fight the eviction for years.

"It's all about other people too. It's not only about me, because there's a lot of frightened people out there."

She feels the heart and soul of her community is being ripped apart, and is worried about the impact on the elderly.

Mr Holyoake says they're building new communities and have been surveying the neighbourhood to better understand residents' views.

"The people that are there at the moment will continue to be there. We're going to introduce them to a whole lot of new people," he says.

TRC says it is about more than building homes; it wants to transform Tāmaki through urban regeneration.

"It's about looking at how you get people into home ownership, how you improve people's health, how you decrease crime rates, how you improve education, leveraging off the development."

The development is pulling down 2,500 state homes, but replacing them with the same number of social houses.

In total, 7,500 homes will be built. More than half of those will be sold to the highest bidder.

The housing project won't increase the number of homes for low-income families in need.

Ms Rauti has the backing of Tāmaki Housing Group, which is opposed to the changes the Government started to make since 2011, when they set about down-sizing their social housing role, sharing the burden with community groups and iwi.

"I think the Government releasing itself of its responsibility to its constituents, especially the most vulnerable in our society is wrong, very wrong.  State housing needs to stay in the hands of the state," says Lisa Gibson.

Since 2011, when state tenancies peaked at just under 70,000, there's been an effort to reduce those numbers through the sale, transfer and demolition of these homes. The Government has a target to reduce the number of Housing NZ properties to 60,000 by the end of 2017.

"We totally understand that this is stressful and scary. We've got something we need to achieve here. We can't achieve it if we leave old houses on the ground. We need to make way for new houses," Mr Holyoake says.

Where Ms Rauti's state house is won't be replaced with social housing, but with new homes which will be sold privately at market price.

"I see that as absolute gentrification. They're shifting out the poor to shift in another group of people, more affluent," Ms Gibson says.

Tāmaki Regeneration will build 400 new houses in the next 12 months.

The Hui

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