Invercargill state houses may survive sell-off as Government reveals short-list
The Government may not sell off nearly 350 state houses in Invercargill if the only potential buyer to make a shortlist doesn't pass muster, Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says.
Four potential buyers have made the final shortlist to buy over 1400 state houses being sold in Tauranga and Invercargill.
The Government has announced the shortlist, after accepting expressions of interest for the first phase of its plans to sell up to 2000 state homes to "community housing providers" and cut the number of properties it owns.
In Invercargill, the Pact Group was the only provider shortlisted to buy 348 properties or tenancies offered for sale.
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In Tauranga, Accessible Properties, Hapori Connect Tauranga, and Kaiana Community Housing Partners made the shortlist to take over 1124 properties or tenancies.
Bennett said she had not had expectations around how many providers would make the shortlist in Invercargill or Tauranga.
"We've had high barriers for them to get through for them to actually get to this stage, so now they get to put their best foot forward and their best offer forward."
She did not rule out keeping the houses in state ownership if the shortlisted provider did not meet expectations with its final proposal.
"At the end of the day, we don't have to sell [the houses], so it's as simple as that."
Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford said the Government needed to "come clean" about the sell-off and reveal how much the houses were being sold for, as well as how much land and housing would end up "in the hands of offshore financiers".
"The whole process has been secretive, and the Government has not provided a scrap of evidence that the sell-off of hundreds of millions of dollars of land and housing will make life better for the tenants," Twyford said.
Housing New Zealand Minister Bill English said he was pleased by the number of respondents who had shown "the capability, understanding and motivation to deliver a better service for tenants".
The potential buyers have been asked to provide further details of their bids in a formal proposal, which will need to be in by May 30 for Invercargill and June 7 for Tauranga.
The successful bidder in each region is expected to be announced in the third quarter of 2016.