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Tamaki state housing transfer risky and desperate

The Government’s transfer of 2800 state houses to the Tamaki Redevelopment Company -- to be announced at 9am today -- shows it's desperation to off-load state houses and show some kind of action against Auckland's out of control housing crisis, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. 

“The Government is set to announce that Housing NZ is pulling out of Tamaki and handing over all its 2800 state houses to the Tamaki Redevelopment Company which is a fledgling joint venture between the Government and Auckland Council tasked with leading the area’s urban renewal. The properties are believed to house 8000 people, and are likely to be worth more than half a billion dollars.

Phil Twyford said the move was reckless, placing a massive taxpayer-owned asset, and the lives of 8000 people in the hands of a tiny, three-year old organisation with no experience of being a landlord. 

”Acting Prime Minister Bill English has been casting around to find someone, anyone, who will take state houses off him, in order to give his sell-off policy some legitimacy after the Salvation Army and the Methodist Mission panned the policy and ruled themselves out as buyers.

“The Tamaki Redevelopment Company has been setting itself up to lead the redevelopment of the area’s housing stock. Now Bill English’s desperation to sell off state houses has seen him foist 2800 houses on them, forcing them to become one of the country’s biggest landlords overnight. 

“The Company has not even been asking or planning to become a landlord. They came to Parliament only a few weeks ago and expressed frustration at the slow pace of redevelopment. They expressed no intention to become a landlord or social housing provider and no such intention exists within their annual report, constitution or letters of intent. 

“The danger is that by forcing this tiny organisation to become a major landlord they will lose focus on their original purpose to spearhead Glen Innes’ urban renewal.

 

“The Government’s housing policy is crashing around their ears. Yesterday the AMP360 housing affordability report showed lower quartile houses in Auckland rose on average by $32,000 in one month. And BNZ economist Tony Alexander said that if Auckland was to reduce overcrowding to the level of the rest of the country it would need to build an additional 76,000 houses over and above the 13,000 per year needed to keep up with population growth. Auckland’s current build rate is 7700 per year. 

“Nothing National does is making any difference to Auckland’s spiralling house prices. In his desperation to look like he is doing something, Bill English’s risky move at Tamaki could put a half-billion dollar asset, 8000 state house tenants, and an important urban renewal project in jeopardy.”