Hundreds of state and council homes north of Wellington up for sale

Housing New Zealand tenant Lyle Walker and his daughter Amy Walker, 2, at their Otaki home.
JOEL MAXWELL/FAIRFAX NZ

Housing New Zealand tenant Lyle Walker and his daughter Amy Walker, 2, at their Otaki home.

Some tenants living in the hundreds of state and council homes north of Wellington that have been put on the market are worried about what the sale mean for their future.

The Government and Horowhenua District Council have unveiled a plan to sell 364 houses across Horowhenua and Kapiti, including 151 Housing New Zealand homes in Levin, 21 in Foxton, 70 in Otaki and seven in Shannon.

Almost all of the houses are occupied and their tenants are mostly elderly, single people or single parents.

Labour Party leader Andrew Little has raised concerns about the sales, saying buyers are likely to include banks, ...
CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX NZ

Labour Party leader Andrew Little has raised concerns about the sales, saying buyers are likely to include banks, consultants, and law firms, rather than social housing providers.

An information document released by Housing NZ and the council said they were both seeking a community housing provider to deliver "social and affordable housing" and bring "fresh thinking" to how tenants are supported and properties are managed.

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Lyle Walker, who shares his three-bedroom Housing NZ home in Otaki with his partner and six children, said he did not know about any potential sale of the house, and was concerned about what that would mean for them.

"They could just turn around and say, 'look, you don't meet the criteria'," he said.

His family had lived in the house for five years since shifting up from Porirua. They were encouraged to do so by Housing NZ because there were so many empty state homes in Otaki.

Now almost all the houses were taken and it was hard to find any others available in Otaki, he said.

Housing NZ Horowhenua an Kapiti portfolio is valued at $24.8 million and has a gross rental income of about $2.4m.

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The council's portfolio has a rating valuation of $7m and a gross rental income of about $900,000.

Labour leader Andrew Little said the properties might be sold to social housing providers, but "anyone" could register as one. 

"Despite a housing crisis and families being forced to live in cars and garages, National is forging ahead with its ideologically driven plan to hock off thousands of state houses throughout the country."

At the last round of meetings for state house sell-offs in Invercargill and Tauranga, 40 per cent of those expressing interest were banks, consultants, law firms, companies and lobbyists, Little said.

In a  joint statement, Treasury and the council said the houses would only be sold to a new provider if that would result in better services for tenants.

If a sale went ahead then a new provider would not be in place until next year, they said.

"It's important to note the potential transfer of council-owned and Crown-owned properties is a proposal only. Any decision to progress to a procurement process will depend upon the outcome of the current consultation with iwi and hapu, as well as market sounding."

WHO LIVES IN THESE HOUSES?

* Housing NZ's 249 properties in Horowhenua and Kapiti are exclusively used for social housing and are tenanted by mostly single people or single parents and their children.

* The council's 127 tenants, are made up of 14 couples and 99 single people. They are mostly older people on superannuation.

(Source: Information Memorandum on the joint sale released by the government and Horowhenua District Council.)

 - Stuff

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