Speak to the machine | The Jackal

29 Feb 2012

Speak to the machine

National have announced that many Housing New Zealand personnel are going to be replaced by an answer machine. There’s one main reason for this, and that’s to lessen the amount of people applying for state houses. National are making the application process even harder, so that people are deterred and have to rent in the private sector.

On Monday, TV3 reported:

An 0800 number and call centre will replace face-to-face contact after Housing New Zealand closes 52 offices and cuts 70 front line jobs.

The change will affect how New Zealanders get in touch with the organisation.
Porirua’s Betty Tahitahi and Brian Grace are concerned about the change, as their Cannons Creek state house has cracks after an earthquake last year.

They say Housing New Zealand is always slow to respond, and are worried having a call centre will make it worse.

“Calling them is not really an option because I could be talking to a computer and they say the same thing again and again. If I go face them then I know things will get done,” Ms Tahitahi says.

There are 69,000 state houses in New Zealand, many of them rented by people who do not speak English.

The right-wingers hate the fact that there are state houses that to a degree keep rental prices down. Even though New Zealand has one of the most expensive rental markets in the world, they want more.

Landlords can only achieve better returns from rack-renting if the alternative is no longer available… hence the move to depersonalise the system to deter people from calling Housing New Zealand, which will result in less efficiency and therefore less state housing.

The other way in which National is trying to destroy the state-housing sector is to leave many houses empty until they are vandalized. They then use this as an excuse to demolish. Between 2008 and 2011, National increased the amount of vacant state houses by a whopping 471 and the overal state houses available declined by 171 in the same time period. 256 houses were demolished.

National is also evicting long-standing tenants and shifting them into less desirable areas to meet the demands of their property speculator buddies.

Housing demand is growing at around 20,000 per year, with building and maintenance not keeping pace. The cost of such mismanagement can be measured in more overcrowding in overpriced and unsuitable accommodation.

Increased hospitalisation, homelessness and decreased productivity are all results of New Zealand’s poor housing stock... the fault of which can be traced back to National's deregulation and policy bungling.