Housing shortage creating homeless problem, MP says

HANNAH SPYKSMA
Last updated 05:00 13/07/2012
Jacinda Ardern.
THOMAS BUSBY/Fairfax NZ
GROWING PROBLEM: Labour MP Jacinda Ardern said there's a need for more inner-city state housing.

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Increased demand for inner city state housing is pushing the homeless to sleep on stairwells and in the corridors of city apartment blocks.

Central Auckland Labour list MP Jacinda Ardern is concerned with statistics that show Housing New Zealand is selling vacant properties in the area despite growing waiting lists.

A high priority waiting list for central Auckland shows at least 130 people urgently need accommodation.

Ardern said the sell-off combined with soaring house prices meant properties, such as apartments in Greys Ave, were being used as temporary shelter for people.

Lifewise general manager John McCarthy said many people had no other options.

"Yes, there are people sleeping in the hallways of that building and ironically it's a function of there not being enough accommodation. 

"These are people who want to be housed and are doing what you or I would do in that situation.''

Notes from the Social Services Select Committee show at least 10 properties in the central city are due to be sold including a "high value'' four-bedroom state house in Ponsonby.

Housing New Zealand has said it will reinvest the proceeds to buy more "fit-for-purpose'' housing in high-demand areas of greater Auckland.

But Ardern said there was a high demand in central Auckland. 

"The loss of state homes in the central area means people are being pushed to the outer parts of Auckland, regardless of where their community, family, doctors and even work are based. 

"I absolutely understand that Housing NZ is under financial pressure but so is the community - it's not the time to be selling off stock.''

Housing New Zealand central Auckland tenancy services manager Angela Pearce said more than a third of the corporation's houses were in the wrong place or were the wrong size or condition to meet future needs.

"Like many countries we're experiencing an ageing population. We need more smaller homes and more larger family homes,'' she said.

"The conventional three-bedroom home to suit the nuclear family is no longer our primary housing need.''

Many central Auckland houses were old and too costly to renovate for state housing, she said.

The corporation uses a social allocation system to provide state housing to those with the greatest need. 

Pearce said the number of applicants was greater than the number of available properties so this was considered the fairest way of allocation.

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"Since  July 1, 2011, only those with a priority need - A and B applicants - have been eligible to join the waiting list for state housing.

"They attain an A or B priority only if they can demonstrate that their current housing situation puts them at risk and that they cannot afford, access, and/or sustain a suitable non-state housing alternative.''

- Auckland Now

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