Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

State housing tenants in the dark over switch to new landlord

Ioela Rauti, who successfully resisted an eviction notice last year when her house was earmarked for redevelopment, will have a new landlord from today.  Photo / Sarah Ivey
Ioela Rauti, who successfully resisted an eviction notice last year when her house was earmarked for redevelopment, will have a new landlord from today. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Almost 3000 Tamaki state housing tenants are being transferred to a new landlord company today, but some still don't know why the change is happening.

The Tamaki Redevelopment Company, a joint venture owned by the Government and Auckland Council, becomes the new landlord for the 2800 Housing NZ tenants between West Tamaki Rd and the Panmure Basin from this afternoon.

But long-standing tenant Ioela (Niki) Rauti, who successfully resisted an eviction notice last year when her house was earmarked for redevelopment, said she did not feel safe because she did not know why her landlord was changing.

"What's it all about? Nobody knows," she said. "We are getting transferred to the Tamaki Housing Association, which is a private holding company [a limited partnership created by the Tamaki Redevelopment Company in January]. Do we feel safe? I don't think so."

Ms Rauti, 61, joined other tenants in a protest outside the company's office in Glen Innes this afternoon.

A protest organiser, Yvonne Dainty, said the transfer was "nothing but privatisation".

"John Key has not been given a mandate for this, nor has council," she said. "We don't believe we will be better off under this company."

Housing NZ Minister Bill English said last year that the existing houses would be replaced during the next 10 to 15 years by about 7500 new homes, with a "bottom line" that there would still be at least as many social housing units as the 2800 existing state homes.

Tamaki Redevelopment Company manager John Holyoake today said that the company planned to advertise in April and May for private sector partners for the redevelopment.

"We'd like to have our development and infrastructure partners selected by the first quarter of 2017," he said.

He said redevelopment would ramp up quickly to a peak construction workforce of 2000 to 2500 within two to three years.

"You are talking 500 to 600 houses a year, which is a lot coming into any environment," he said.

He said a condition in the partnership contracts would be that the developers must employ "a certain number" of workers from the Tamaki area, including the company's tenants.

"We are providing partners with a guaranteed pipeline for up to 10 years of housebuilding, so they have an ability to set up programmes to align with the Ministry of Education on a pipeline for education and apprenticeships," he said.

"We are going to take the opportunity, as we are rehousing someone, to understand a little bit more about that family -- what opportunities they have, if it's also a family that may be capable, with a little bit of support, of getting into private rental fort the first time, or even in some cases getting into supported home ownership, and what is happening with that family in terms of employment.

"We are creating a phenomenal amount of work on the ground."

Neil Porteous, a former northern operations manager for St John who has been appointed the company's housing manager, said the company had appointed 15 tenancy managers - almost double the eight that Housing NZ had in its Panmure office.

All existing Panmure tenancy managers were offered jobs and six have been appointed, along with nine new hires. The company has taken over the Panmure office in addition to its existing base in Glen Innes.

Mr Holyoake said the tenancy managers would not be social workers, but would work closely with agencies such as the District Health Board, the Ministries of Education and Social Development and Police.

"We are trying to make sure that services across Tamaki are well co-ordinated and we can make sure tenants and all residents of Tamaki are getting good access to services," he said.

"Of course when we come across something that we don't think is quite right, we will refer a family to the right services, but we are not providing those services ourselves."

- NZ Herald

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