National slammed for 'awful response' to housing crisis

  • 13/02/2018

An independent report initiated by the new Government has revealed just how bad our housing crisis is - and it's a depressing read.

"The state of the housing market is a cluster... You fill in the gaps," report author and economist Shamubeel Eaqub says.

The number of renters has surged, rent prices are outstripping wages and thousands are in need of state housing.

Each year, 6000 children are admitted to hospital with diseases linked to poor-quality housing, while pensioners are reportedly turning themselves into hospitals in order to be fed after spending their money on rent. And with winter coming, these problems are expected to escalate.

Manukau Ward Councillor Efeso Collins and CEO of Mangere Budgeting Services Darryl Evans told The AM Show on Tuesday housing report results weren't unexpected - and the previous government is to blame.

"It's quite a depressing report," Mr Collins says.

"Sure, it's a real smack in the guts for many of us but it's nothing new to us."

"We've all known there's a crisis for a number of years," Mr Evans added.

"The only people who don't seem to have known it are the previous Government."

Nationwide, the housing stocktake counted 1.9 million private homes, which provide housing for 4.9 million Kiwis. Of the new households formed in the last decade, 70 percent of them are renters.

Between 2012 and 2017, the cost of renting a three-bedroom house rose by 25 percent, while wages only rose by 14 percent in the same period. And as of the December 2017 quarter, more than 6000 households were in need of a state house.

Mr Evans says families are being forced to live in houses that are "absolutely substandard". One house he saw didn't even have glass windows. He says he's helping a family who don't want to stay in a motel because of the drug use and sex work taking place.

"It's not about putting the boot in but when we're spending $50 million-plus on putting people into temporary accommodation in the motels, it's not good enough," Mr Evans says.

Mr Collins says National's handling of the housing crisis was an "awful response".

"We haven't built enough houses and we've got a whole lot of people who are really struggling," he says.

"There were even suggestions that we move some families in South Auckland down to Invercargill."