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National pushes on with failed state house sell-off

Merchant bankers, overseas companies and property developers will be lining up to buy 364 state houses in Horowhenua during two days of “market sounding” meetings starting tomorrow, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says.

“Despite a housing crisis and families being forced to live in cars and garages, National is forging ahead with its ideologically-driven plan to hock off thousands of state houses throughout the country.

“The Government plans to sell off 249 state houses in Horowhenua; 151 in Levin, 21 in Foxton, 70 in Otaki and seven in Shannon. Market sounding meetings are being held in Levin tomorrow and Wellington on Friday.

“At the last round of these meetings for National’s first tranche of state house sell-offs in Invercargill and Tauranga, 40 per cent of those expressing interest were banks, consultants, law firms, companies and lobbyists. Just 20 per cent were registered community housing providers.

“National claims they are selling these properties to ‘social housing providers’ but anyone can register as one. This blows holes in the Government’s argument they are selling-off these properties because social housing providers will take better care of tenants.

“The earlier meetings were almost a year ago and as yet no state houses have been sold. Invercargill was a spectacular flop – the Government’s only bidder pulled out – and three bidders have been locked in negotiations over the Tauranga houses for many months. Two of are consortia dominated by merchant bankers, overseas companies and property developers.

“Instead of flogging off state houses during a housing crisis, Labour will stop the sell-off and build more – increasing the number of state houses by at least 1000 every year until demand is met. Instead of running Housing NZ as a cash cow, we will turn it into a public service which focuses on people, not profits,” Andrew Little says.