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Bennett’s refusal to join cross party approach arrogant

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett has refused to join a cross-party round table to discuss the recommendations of the homelessness inquiry by Labour, the Greens and the Maori Party, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. 

“Paula Bennett falsely claims the Government is implementing almost all the Inquiry’s recommendations. Nothing could be further from the truth.

“The cross party inquiry heard from more than 500 New Zealanders. Members travelled the country drawing on expert evidence and peoples’ lived experience of homelessness. It is a real shame Paula Bennett thinks she has all the answers already and doesn’t want to lift this issue above party politics. 

Mr Twyford told Parliament’s Social Services Committee today that the Government was taking no action on at least half of the Inquiry’s 20 recommendations, including the four principal recommendations. 

“The Minister’s recent funding announcement will only provide 2200 places, which would house a little more than half the 4200 people without shelter estimated by Otago University based on 2013 census data. 

“The recommendation for a massive state house building programme is simply not happening. National has overseen a reduction of 2500 in the number of state houses, and only a small increase in the number of homes provided by community housing providers.  Increasing the provision of emergency housing won’t do much good if there continues to be an acute shortage of affordable rentals for people to move into after they’ve had a period living in short-term emergency housing. 

“The Inquiry also called for a systemic fix to the housing crisis with policies that tackle property speculators and a massive government backed building programme to increase the supply of affordable housing. The Government has shown no interest in tackling the causes of the crisis.  Merely increasing the spending on emergency housing is taking a welfare approach to a problem of market failure. It is an expensive and ineffective response. 

“The only long term solution to the homelessness crisis is to fix the root of the problem – by reforming a housing market that National has allowed to spin out of control. We need the better ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, but on its own it is not enough,” Phil Twyford says.