26 May 2016

$5000 moving grant 'laughable' without work

9:20 am on 26 May 2016

A woman living with her two children in a state house in Auckland says a $5000 payment to move to the regions is laughable, when there are no job prospects to go with it.

State Housing in Upper Hutt

State houses in Lower Hutt are ready to be let, says the Social Housing Minister Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The government will offer state house tenants and homeless people in Auckland up to $5000 to move to the likes of Hamilton, Gisborne and Whanganui.

There are more than 2000 people on the waiting list for urgent state housing in Auckland.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett said there were dozens of empty houses in other parts of New Zealand, such as in Lower Hutt where there were 18 state houses ready to let, Palmerston North where there were 15 and Gisborne with four.

But an Auckland housing trust doubts there will be many takers for the offer.

Monte Cecilia Housing Trust chief executive Bernie Smith said unless families had networks of support in the place they might move to, it was a flawed proposition.

"It can be a creative solution, but I'm sure if people were wanting that, they would have already been knocking on Winz's doors to get that assistance and help them move to another location. I think she'll be very lucky to get even 150 families."

A Whanganui Housing Trust said the incentive was just shifting the problem.

Ms Bennett named Whanganui as one of the places with vacant state houses that Aucklanders could shift to.

But Sian McGibbon from the Whanganui Housing Trust told Morning Report it would not make a difference.

"You're shifting one problem from one part of the country to another part of the country. And it's a short-term measure, not a definite long-term solution. I think there needs to be a bit more thought put into it."

Ms McGibbon said there were not enough jobs in a place like Whanganui and she had encountered difficulties securing the use of the empty state houses for needy families.

Cherie, who lived in a state house in Auckland with her two kids, said it was a ridiculous idea and she planned to stay put.

"Unless there is something greater - maybe a better school or maybe they can provide a job for my son that's closer to wherever we are going to be allocated to."

Cherie said the cash incentive was probably better suited to people putting up with overcrowded conditions or young, relatively unsettled families.

Bennett denies blindsiding Finance Minister

Meanwhile, the Social Housing Minister said she did not blindside the Finance Minister with the policy.

Ms Bennett made the announcement on her way into Parliament yesterday - but neglected to tell Bill English, who is also the minister responsible for Housing New Zealand.

Mrs Bennett said the initiative did not need Cabinet approval, because the money will come out of an existing social housing fund.

"Look, I talked about in back in January, I think it's a pragmatic move to work with some of those tenants."

Ms Bennett said the policy was announced a little early, but has been well and truly worked through.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs