Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Phil Goff falls short on housing answers

It is understood Phil Goff will issue a housing policy next month. Photo / Nick Reed
It is understood Phil Goff will issue a housing policy next month. Photo / Nick Reed

Phil Goff, a Labour MP and former Housing Minister, offered little in the way of solutions for poor people affected by the city's housing crisis at a mayoral debate in South Auckland last night.

Gordon Myer, of the CAB in Manurewa, said every day he saw the misery of people who cannot find a home.

"What, if anything, can council do to make God's Own really God's Own?" Myer asked four mayoral candidates, Goff, Vic Crone, Mark Thomas and John Palino.

Goff expressed sympathy for the problem, told a couple of stories about people sleeping rough in cars and threw in a few numbers about the housing shortage. His only hint of a solution was working in partnership with the Government to deliver on basic needs for human beings.

It is understood Goff, a leading contender to replace Len Brown who is stepping down at October's local body elections, will issue a housing policy next month.

Like Goff, Crone acknowledged and sympathised with the city's homeless and low-income people, and spoke of a friend earning more than $100,000 and living at her bach who could not get into a home.

She said the biggest issue was the supply of houses, and the council should take responsibility for the shortage. The first step was to start forecasting better for growth.

Palino lay the blame at the city's growth plan, saying the city had to create jobs closer to where people live. He advocated building major centres along the city's transport spine in places like Albany, Henderson and Manukau.

Thomas said the council was pretty hopeless at managing accommodation, citing the council's empty Civic Building in Aotea Square, which he said could be used as temporary accommodation for the 224 homeless people in the central city.

The Liston Park rugby clubrooms in Ellerslie, lying empty since the council bought it six years ago, was another candidate to house the homeless on a temporary basis, he said.
"Longer term we have got to build more, cheaper houses. My answer is to spend more of our money on transport and housing," Thomas said.

After the debate, at the Acacia Cove Retirement Village in Wattle Downs, Myer was unimpressed with the "pontificating" from the candidates to the "human face and biggest problem facing Auckland: the lack of reasonably priced housing".

"The reality is what I face. The volunteers see the tears, they see the anger, they see the frustration. Worst of all they see the children, and what sort of future have those children got being disenfranchised, living in cars with a hand-to-mouth existence for months, if not years?

"I had my little two pennies' worth and I hope I made them stop and think," Myer said.
The debate, organised by the Wattle Down Residents and Ratepayers' Association, attracted about 120 mostly elderly people.

- NZ Herald

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