Housing Problems Highlighted


Squalor and rack-renting ruining renters’ lives

By Local Govt reporter, Jeremy Smith

Vocal members of the public highlighted dreadful housing conditions in the Wellington region at a recent Labour Party meeting in Waikanae.

One speaker said his student daughter in Wellington faced living in rentals which were ‘disgusting’ and ‘absolute squalor.’

Another speaker, a local woman, said she was separated and could not use her child support payment towards servicing a mortgage. She said a rent of $400 a week was more than she earned.

Rob McCann

They were speaking at a Labour Party meeting to promote Otaki candidate Rob McCann and Labour’s 

Phil Twyford outside state houses up for sale in Otaki.

plans for housing — just three months out from the General Election.

The main purpose of the meeting was to discuss housing problems in Kapiti and Horowhenua, with  high profile housing spokesperson Phil Twyford as

guest speaker.

The meeting started with stories of personal housing problems as McCann handed the microphone to members of the public.

One 62-year-old woman said the housing supplement was the only way she could pay her rent but the rental was about to be sold. She did not know what else she could afford and thought she might have to apply for council housing. She praised Kapiti mayor Gurunathan, who was present, for promising to hold on to KCDC council housing.

Strong clapping greeted suggestions from the floor to bring in a capital gains tax.

Labour’s priority

But MP Twyford said any Labour-led administration would first restore a tax working group to look how a capital gain tax or land tax might fit.

Labour’s priority would be to close the tax loophole called negative gearing. (That’s where investors who make a loss on a property can offset some of the loss through a tax loophole)

He said property speculators who sold within five years would pay income tax on 33 per cent of the gain they made.

And there was strong clapping when he said  Labour would stop foreign buyers from buying up existing homes.

Applause for immigration cuts

But his strongest applause came when he talked about Labour’s plan to restrict immigration.

In reply to the one  person who publicly objected  to Labour’s immigration plans, Twyford said there was nothing xenophobic about controlling the level of immigration.

Twyford said the housing crisis pre-dated the current National government but they had not done enough to fix it.  He said National’s spending on half a billion dollars on rent subsidies, including housing people in motels, was an admission of failure.

NB: (Reporter’s note on old and new technology): This meeting was at one of the most traditional venues for a Kiwi meeting, a church hall .

But the new technology  — wireless microphones — allowed members of the public to tell their stories.

There’s an interesting similarity with some of the modern revivalist churches which allow members of the congregation to publicly declare their faith … or possibly their transgressions.

That’s normally followed by the main preacherman reinforcing the message.

I’m not sure that MP Twyford sees himself quite like that.