MP encourages state tenants to move to the Bay

By Sophie Price

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Tukituki MP Craig Foss is welcoming those who want to relocate to Bay state housing. He is pictured with Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett when she visited the area in 2014 to discuss government plans to introduce a New Zealand Seasonal Worker Programme, in her then capacity as social development minister.
Tukituki MP Craig Foss is welcoming those who want to relocate to Bay state housing. He is pictured with Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett when she visited the area in 2014 to discuss government plans to introduce a New Zealand Seasonal Worker Programme, in her then capacity as social development minister.

Tukituki MP Craig Foss is encouraging those languishing on the state housing list in Auckland to move to Hawke's Bay.

That is despite the fact the region has fewer than 50 state properties available to rent and its own list of people waiting to get into those houses.

"I'm always 'Backing the Bay' and encouraging people to move here," Mr Foss said.

"Seriously, why would you want to live anywhere else?

"New families, new opportunities add even more value to Hawke's Bay."

The call comes in the wake of Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett this week confirming the Government wants prospective tenants to consider moving to regions where dozens of state houses are vacant. Reportedly in some cases people could be offered thousands of dollars in taxpayer sweeteners.

"We've really got to shift some of the thinking with those who are eligible for state assistance for housing," Ms Bennett said.

"And that means thinking more flexibly and looking at other areas of New Zealand that have got great employment opportunities and secure housing."

However, while people were being encouraged to move to the Bay, in reality there were only 49 houses ready to let now.

Earlier this month Housing New Zealand said Hawke's Bay had enough homes to meet demand, with 170 families being housed in the past six months.

Of the 2800 state-owned houses in the Bay, Housing NZ reported there were 49 "short term vacant" homes ready to let and 68 "long term vacant" homes not ready to be let or sold.

Ikaroa-Rwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri said while she was "all for people moving to the provinces" Hawke's Bay had a shortage of good-quality social housing.

"We have got a waiting list [here] so what happens to those people who are on the waiting list waiting themselves? Where do they go with this minister's plan?" she asked.

The move from Ms Bennett was symptomatic of a government that had no plan to deal with social housing in a sustainable way nationwide.

Ms Whaitiri said it was not only about people taking up state houses in the provinces: there must be good, well-paying jobs for people to take up, she said.

Tukituki Labour spokeswoman Anna Lorck said the Government was putting the social housing burden on provinces such as Hawke's Bay.

Ms Lorck said while she felt for the people in Auckland, this region had people living in garages and sheds, waiting to get into state housing.

"This Government is happy to hand out money to Aucklanders while we have high unemployment, crime rates and some of the worst health statistics in the country," she said.

"And in the meantime Hawke's Bay's own housing and social challenges get worse."

A better plan would be to provide incentives for local businesses to take on more staff and turn seasonal work into fulltime work by upskilling the local workforce.

"They should be looking at supporting initiatives and work packages that attract and reward businesses which can set up and invest in creating jobs and reduce our unemployment," Ms Lorck said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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