State houses not 'for life' - Key

Last updated 09:04 20/02/2012
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State housing should be a stepping stone and was no longer about a home for life, Prime Minister John Key says.

His comments followed a protest in the Auckland suburb of Glen Innes over the weekend.

The protesters were unhappy that state house tenants have been made to leave their homes as part of the Tamaki Transformation Programme, which will upgrade existing houses and build additional ones.

Key said the Tamaki redevelopment had been planned for a long time and started under the previous Labour government.

"It's all part of a programme to make sure that we can house what is a very large and growing list of people that need to get in state houses, they're in real need often living in very poor conditions in garages and areas of deprivation."

Many people were in state houses that no longer met their needs, such as elderly single people in three or four bedroom homes, he told TV One's Breakfast programme.

Meanwhile there was a growing waiting list for accommodation.

National was changing the mentality that people were entitled to stay in a state house for life and all new tenants now have their agreement reviewed every three years.

"In a way it's a great stepping stone, or platform, if you like; help people in real need, allow them to move on."

Those in the most need could continue to stay but it was about the relative need of others waiting for a state house, Key said.

"My own case, we grew up in a state house, but at a certain point Mum went out and brought an ownership flat."

In a blog last week, Labour MP Phil Twyford said the Government's approach in Tamaki was breaking every rule and giving urban renewal a bad name.

Labour had promised residents they would have the right to move back into the community after the redevelopment, but National had reneged on that, he said.

"They have broken the promise the number of Housing NZ properties would be increased.

"And they dropped the community development process that was part of the original design."

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