Paula will pay you $5000 to leave Auckland, but only if you are homeless

Homeless people could be offered up to $5000 to leave Auckland and resettle in a state house in the provinces, Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett has confirmed.

The policy was put together in the last few days and was announced this afternoon as the Government goes into damage control over its handling of housing problems in New Zealand.

Ms Bennett told reporters at Parliament this afternoon that up to 150 families could be relocated to state houses or possibly private rentals through the policy.

“I would say to those that are homeless that there is a chance that they could get a house in days if they were willing to look outside of Auckland.”

The minister said that the maximum $5000 grant was mostly targeted at people who were already in state houses, but homeless could also get access to financial assistance “if that is what is needed”.

Huntly, Ngaurawahia, Hamilton, Whanganui, Gisborne all had vacant state houses available. Any relocation would be strictly voluntary, Ms Bennett said.

If the point is to take pressure off in Auckland, why not offer $5000 to anyone that is currently renting willing to relocate?  Or is it just a matter to clean up some unsightly homeless so the stats look better? 

Labour leader Andrew Little said the announcement was a “desperate, last-minute bid by a government on the ropes of the housing shortage”.

“The Government has been so out of touch for so long on chronic housing problems, now they have suddenly woken up the day before the Budget and realised they’ve completely missed the boat, and they’d better look as if they’re doing something.”

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said the policy may work for a handful of families, but that number was a tiny minority of people in desperate need of a home.

“The minister has scrambled this together, because she is under so much pressure, and rightly so…it is another short-term, half measure.”

It is not often that I agree with Angry Andy, but he’s right.  Policy knocked up in a few days is born from desperation and is a clear admission it is expedience rather than good planning that drives this move.

It is easier to move people to houses than create houses for people.  And the unemployed and ne’erdowells can be unemployed and useless anywhere.  Except, they wouldn’t be homeless and the stats will look better.  The government will be able to say “they’re doing something”.

National clearly feel exposed here.  I suspect this won’t be the only hail-Mary we’ll see on housing.


– Isaac Davison, NZ Herald

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

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