Phil Goff: State house tenants' kids will suffer

PALOMA MIGONE
Last updated 05:00 06/11/2011
Phil Goff
MAARTEN HOLL/Fairfax NZ
PHIL GOFF: "I've got absolutely no sympathy for tenants that don't meet the conditions of their agreements. But how do you make sure you are not relegating children to a situation where they really get a rotten start in life because of their parents?"

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Locking misbehaving tenants out of state houses could condemn their children to a "rotten start in life", Labour leader Phil Goff says.

Prime Minister John Key and National's housing spokesman, Phil Heatley, yesterday unveiled the party's get-tough state housing policy during an election-campaign visit to Cannons Creek, Porirua.

The suspension tactic would mean tenants evicted for illegal behaviour would not be eligible for another state house for up to a year.

"We will continue to ensure there is no-nonsense approach to those few state housing tenants acting outside the law," Heatley said.

"State house tenants don't deserve to live in neighbourhoods that are violent, full of crime, and are full of vandalism."

Goff said children would suffer for their parents' misbehaviour.

"I've got absolutely no sympathy for tenants that don't meet the conditions of their agreements," he said. "But how do you make sure you are not relegating children to a situation where they really get a rotten start in life because of their parents?"

He said Housing New Zealand was the home provider of last resort, and the department had to explore all angles to make sure children lived in decent homes.

"That doesn't mean being soft on their parents, it just means having a look at a range of other things that you might do ensure that the tenants come into line."

Heatley said evicted tenants could move back to live with their parents, "and see if their parents would put up with their serious antisocial behaviour, dealing with P and vandalism".

"Essentially what we are saying is `look, if it gets to the point where we work with you hard enough and you still persist, you are moving on'."

Housing New Zealand had already introduced a "good behaviour policy" and 99% of tenants complied with it, Heatley said, but 400 people had been moved over the past three years.

National also plans to spend $9.2 million over the next two years insulating 4600 state houses built before 1978.

"This will ensure that everyone that is living in a state house will be living in one that is insulated," Key said.

"We know that if people are living at a home that is properly insulated then that improves the outcomes and makes sure people are ready to go to school, and mum and dad can go to work."

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