More homelessness under National | The Jackal

30 Jul 2012

More homelessness under National

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

There's no doubt Auckland's motley crew of vagrant street people can be a pain in the proverbial, especially to adjacent shopkeepers, and to politicians and bureaucrats striving to create the world's most liveable city.

But surely there's a more compassionate and practical solution than that developed by Auckland Transport, which these days controls not only public transport but the roads and footpaths as well.


In the initial blitzkrieg, AT ripped out every seat so the itinerants had nowhere to rest during their "work" or to sleep on overnight. The transport utility seemed to have forgotten the bus passengers in its excitement. After I complained, the bureaucrats replaced about a third of the seats, ensuring none of the benches was long enough to be used as a bed. The itinerants got the message and departed. But a month or so later, AT was back to rip out most of the replacement seats anyway. Just in case, it seemed.

It's sad to see the very organizations that should be helping the impoverished, instead abusing them by removing or altering structures just to make their lives more difficult. Unlike many other countries around the world, which tolerate the existence of homeless people, New Zealand seems to have lost a lot of its compassion. This is in part due to the public being desensitised, whereby many people now simply ignore the suffering around them.

However it's not just councils and the public that should be stepping up to the mark in regard to our growing rate of homelessness... Central government has the most influence on how society functions in this regard, and therefore most of the blame can be attributed there.

On Saturday, The Nation interviewed the Minister of Housing, Phil Heatley, in what is best described as an opportunity for National to promote its propaganda. There was one instance of journalism however, when Heatley was asked why the government wasn't building more state houses? He replied:

Well we're we're doing it in Tamaki cause we own 57 per cent of the houses, so one out of every two houses up in Glenn Innes and and ah Point England in that area is you know the taxpayer's, you know it's just amazing. The reason we are targeting those areas is the concentration of government investment is so much and there is so much wasted land, and those people are living in old houses and they should be living in decent ones.

Um there are other examples across the country where we could do that sort of stuff, but that's the first cab off the rank. But I've got to say, you know historically in New Zealand, and it's worked well for us, it's not up to the state to provide you know housing for you know nine out of ten people, they want to buy their own home and be independent.

With 156 state housing families being evicted in Glen Innes alone, and a huge reduction in the overall amount of state houses available in New Zealand, National is simply making the homeless problem worse. Between 2008 and 2011, the amount of vacant state houses increased by a whopping 471 and the overall state houses available declined by 171.

Along with new harsher criteria to be eligible to receive housing NZ assistance, a reduction in staff numbers and an electronic call centre designed to deter people from seeking help, Nationals policy changes have undoubtedly caused there to be more homeless people on the streets... Heatley's legacy will be one of social failure for generations to come.