Rachel Smalley is a radio host for Newstalk ZB. Listen to her between 5am and 6am every weekday morning.

Shunting out poor won't solve Auckland's housing crisis

State housing tenants may be offered $3000 to relocate. Photo / Sarah Ivey
State housing tenants may be offered $3000 to relocate. Photo / Sarah Ivey

People living in state houses or waiting for a state house in Auckland will be financially incentivised to move out of the city.

Paula Bennett, the Social Housing Minister, says Pacific Island tenants could be prime candidates for such a move (read the full reports here).

She says there is a strong Samoan community in Ashburton so Samoans on the state housing waiting list in Auckland could move to Ashburton - and the government would help pay their costs to relocate.

She goes on to say there is a strong Tongan community in Oamaru so Tongans who are on the waiting list in Auckland could move there -- perhaps they have family connections, she says.

READ MORE: Mike Hosking on why Auckland has room to spread

In some cases, people could be offered a one-off cash payment to relocate out of Auckland.

This issue, according to Bennett, is Auckland's housing shortage.

And there are some regions in New Zealand where there is a surplus of state housing and Bennett wants to fill those houses - Lower Hutt is another area where state housing is sitting empty.

I would suggest there is a reason state houses are sitting empty in some regions - a lack of employment opportunities is one of those reasons.

Yes, Auckland has a housing crisis but shunting those positioned in the lower socio-economic demograph out of the city is not the way to ease it.

Key to the housing crisis is the failure of the government and the Auckland Council to reach an agreement on how best to solve the crisis in Auckland. One wants to build up, the other wants to open up more green fields for development.

There is some hefty opposition to intensified housing - and at the same time, the Council has been reluctant to develop greenfields and put more pressure on already struggling infrastructure.

That, coupled with an extraordinary level of migration equates to a housing shortage and soaring prices.

And so somewhere, in the thick of all of this, state-housing tenants have found themselves on the government's radar.

And Bennett is essentially dangling a short-term mini cash cow in front of vulnerable people and shunting them out of the city - to what? Who knows?

There is little thought given to what these tenants will do in already struggling areas of the country - they are unlikely to have social support, and what are their job prospects in some of these regions that are already struggling?

I can't recall who said that you judge a society by they way it treats its most vulnerable, but they were right. New Zealand is better than this. Much better.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

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Rachel Smalley is a radio host for Newstalk ZB. Listen to her between 5am and 6am every weekday morning.

Rachel’s career in journalism is extensive. She has reported from Europe, Africa, Asia and America, covering elections in Britain, the United States, France and New Zealand. She joined Newstalk ZB as host of KPMG Early Edition in 2013 and also works on TVNZ’s Sunday and Q&A current affairs programmes.

Read more by Rachel Smalley

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