Nothing positive about homelessness | The Jackal

1 Sep 2017

Nothing positive about homelessness

The National party doesn’t seem to have their stories straight when it comes to the growing homelessness problem in New Zealand.

First they spent a couple of terms in government denying that there’s an issue at all… a problem they helped cause by selling off and demolishing state houses. Then they finally acknowledged that there is a housing crisis, and have rushed to re-announce policy that won’t actually address the shortage.

Now, after many years of reports showing the problem was getting progressively worse, National have once again changed their tune because of the election.

Today, Newshub reported:

Homelessness the downside of 'positive' immigration story - Paula Bennett

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett has admitted there are more people homeless in New Zealand than there was when National took office.

But she says the reasons for that tell a "positive story".

Speaking to The AM Show on Friday, Ms Bennett said New Zealand's quick recovery from the global financial crisis (GFC) and the growing threat of terrorism overseas has seen people flock to our shores.

Despite this admission, the National party is still criticising Labour for their immigration policy.

"New Zealanders decided they wanted to come back to New Zealand and stay here, so as a consequence we've had more people in this country pretty much in a really short period of time, and that has put pressure on the housing market - there's no two ways about it," she said.

Clearly Bennett has run off at the mouth without checking the facts.

But Statistics New Zealand data shows in the last 40 years, there has not been a single year in which more Kiwis came home than left.

The exodus peaked in 2012, which saw a net 39,507 New Zealanders depart. It's since recovered to a net outflow of 1284 Kiwis. On a net basis, most immigrants in 2017 have been from China, India, the UK and the Philippines.

At least Bennett has kind of acknowledged that housing pressure comes from having too many people and not enough houses to go around, even if she did blame the wrong cohort.

Obviously Bennett’s belief that returning Kiwis are to blame for homelessness is entirely wrong! However what about National’s other excuses, like the one where homeless people actually want to sleep rough?

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

English shares memory of relative who insisted on sleeping rough

The NZ Herald changed the online headline.

Prime Minister Bill English has revealed one of his own relatives had slept on the streets, giving him personal experience in the difficulties of resolving chronic homelessness.

Nothing like a bit of anecdotal evidence in an election campaign.

Setting out the homelessness announcement, English said his goal was to completely eliminate "rough sleeping" - but he knew from personal experience that this was challenging.

National hasn’t got any real intention of developing policy that will actually reduce homelessness, because homelessness puts pressure on the housing market and keeps the bubble artificially inflated.

There are now over 40,000 homeless Kiwis specifically because National's policy, or lack thereof, has helped cause the housing crisis.

He said one of his own relatives had been a rough sleeper. "No one was able to keep him in a house, despite many efforts.

"I've had the personal experience of dealing with some of the conditions of homelessness. It's a very difficult problem to solve."

That doesn’t give English personal experience in the difficulties of resolving chronic homelessness; it just makes English think that all homeless people are to blame for their own predicaments.

Perhaps this is the reason why the National led government has been so woeful in its response to the homelessness problem… the experience of Bill English who thinks that people actually choose to live on the streets.

This really comes down to the National party believing that the people who are homeless are somehow inferior and deserve to be homeless.

Even though the National party has put some homeless people up in motels, at great expense to the taxpayer, after nine long years in government the National party is still unable to develop policy to reduce the growing number of Kiwis sleeping rough.

Becoming homeless is not a choice anybody would make if there were affordable homes and it’s not a sign of a successful economy or society.

Bill English and Paula Bennett need to stop making stupid excuses and accept that Labour’s policy will work and should be adopted in the unlikely event that National gain a fourth term in government.