Defence of empty houses rings hollow

Published: Tue 6 Aug 2013 05:03 PM
Housing Spokesperson
Defence of empty houses rings hollow
Housing Minister Nick Smith’s defence that 3700 vacant state houses is a very small number shows how out of touch he is with the desperate need for state housing, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.
“Leaving 5 per cent of our housing stock empty when Housing New Zealand’s Priority A and B waiting lists have increased by 49 per cent or 1,255 people, since January 2012, is just another example of Nick Smith’s mismanagement of state housing.
“When pressed on this in Parliament today, Nick Smith talked in circles before blurting out, ‘the issue is that lots of state houses are vacant today’. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
“For thousands of New Zealanders securing a roof over their heads is the number one concern.
“Of the houses National has left vacant, 1700 have been deemed ‘lettable’ by Housing New Zealand. In fact, the number ready to rent -- by Housing New Zealand’s own definition-- has increased by 200 since January 2012.
“Houses that can be let should be let. The Minister’s defence that ‘vacant is a very broad definition’ doesn’t wash. Neither does his argument that 1200 properties are empty because they need minor repair.
“Houses shouldn’t be sitting empty for months because of a loose floor board or want of a lick of paint. Perhaps if tradespeople contracted in to make these repairs weren’t held up on Mr Smith’s ‘smarter, fairer, faster’ 0800 phone line we would be seeing more progress,” Phil Twyford said.

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