22 Jan 2016

Houses out of action for pay-to-move plans

2:22 pm on 22 January 2016

There are currently no state houses available to rent in Ashburton or Oamaru, Housing New Zealand says.

State housing in Upper Hutt.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Yesterday, Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett, used the two towns as examples of places where Aucklanders waiting for a state house may be paid to move to.

With more than 2000 people on the waiting list for urgent state housing in Auckland, State Housing Minister Paula Bennett said the government needed to do all it could to get people into homes.

But Housing New Zealand said six homes in Ashburton and three in Oamaru were either fire damaged, methamphetamine contaminated, or had other significant problems that made them unsafe.

It said four others had been matched with tenants, or were in the process of being matched.

Mayors challenge pay-to-move proposal

Regional mayors have also also poked holes in the proposal to use a cash incentive to get state housing tenants to relocate.

National MP, Paula Bennett.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Porirua's mayor, Nick Leggett, said his city was one of the places it was suggested they go.

"Apparently we're second on the list as their preferred location," he said.

"We don't have massive vacancies and we've got people with unmet need currently, who are not being housed. So I would prefer to see that locals have that need met first."

He said a group of incoming refugees from Syria would also add to the pressure, and said many people waiting for houses did not fit the requirements for the homes that were available.

Gisborne mayor Meng Foon said they too had vacant houses, but most needed major work to be liveable.

He said he did not have a problem with paying people to move to Gisborne so long as they worked when they were there.

"Relocate people that have potential, that have jobs, that have the potential to build businesses in Gisborne."

New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd said the lure of a cash carrot was not enough on its own.

He said the government needed to invest in the towns as well to get businesses, and jobs, there.

Tax cuts for business owners could be a place to start, he said.

"We have great lifestyle, great schooling, it's safe... So there's lots of great opportunity.

"But just to shift people around, though, seems quite simplistic. You definitely need a bigger strategy."

How much each household could get was yet to be determined.

Ms Bennett said she would take the policy to Parliament in the next couple of months and its cost would be weighed up then.