Over 8500 eligible households waiting for public housing

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jul 31, 2018 in Rat News | Subscribe

New figures from MSD show a quarter of eligible families are waiting over 150 days for public housing.

The mammoth public housing waitlist is reaching new highs, with 8519 eligible households waiting for housing as of May 31.

That was up from 8108 the month before, and over double the 3877 households waiting two years ago.

The waitlist, which only included families and individuals who had applied for public housing and had been deemed eligible to receive it, was one of the more telling measurements of the evolving housing crisis.

The figure was obtained from the Ministry of Social Development, which usually released the figures only once a quarter, in an Official Information Act request.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford said the continued growth of the waitlist during his Government’s tenure was the “legacy” of a housing crisis inherited from the last National government.

A homeless person sleeps on their belongings on Queen St in Auckland. The waitlist for public housing continues to grow.

A homeless person sleeps on their belongings on Queen St in Auckland. The waitlist for public housing continues to grow.

“It’s the legacy of the years of the housing crisis being allowed to get out of control. We know there’s been huge unmet need,” Twyford said.

“It reflects what’s happening in housing markets around the country where there’s a dire shortage of affordable rental housing in particular.”

Twyford expected the issue to get worse before it got better – in a few years time.

The Government is planning to build 6400 state homes by 2021, bringing the total number of social houses to around 71,000.

This target has been criticised by National, who were building to 70,000 by 2020.

National’s social housing spokesman Simon O’Connor said he was happy to see Twyford starting to “caveat” just how fast he thought he could fix things while in opposition.

“The challenge for Twyford and the Government here is they promised very big gains – they promised they could reduce the register and solve homelessness,” O’Connor said.

“I for one would like him to be realistic in his statements.”

O’Connor said house price growth under the Government had been one of the “multitude” of reasons the list has grown so much, along with the fact that the state had been much more assertive in finding out who needed housing and getting them on the register.

Unlike his colleague Judith Collins, O’Connor did not put the blame for the continued growth squarely onto the decision by Twyford to pause state home eligibility checks, but he did think it was a factor.

“Tenure review enabled Housing New Zealand to more efficiently allocate the housing stock,” O’Connor siad.

“Undoubtedly there are people in staying in state houses that don’t need them any more.”

Twyford said only a very small number of eligibility checks had not taken place that would have during the pause, which he was using to redesign how eligibility checks will be used going forward.

His aim was to stop families with children and other vulnerable tenants from being subjected to eligibility checks, but this still had to go through Cabinet.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at the start of winter that no Kiwi should need to sleep in a car during the season.

It was impossible to know how many of the 8500 households on the waitlist were actually without shelter, and the list would include people who were placed into emergency housing or motels while waiting for social housing.

As of the end of March the median wait time for families on the list or waiting for a transfer was 64 days.

A quarter of all families waited longer than 150 days.

 – Stuff

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