A Catholic social agency is calling on the Government to provide more social housing built not just in south Auckland, but across the greater Auckland area in the wake of the deepening crisis. De Paul House manager Jan Rutledge told NZ Catholic it is preferable to form a diverse community in terms of economic class as well as ethnicity. De Paul House provides
emergency housing and family services.
“In the community we live and work in which is Kaipatiki, that’s typically been our history. The haves will help the have nots,” she explained.
“But if you put everybody that is poor basically out in south Auckland, then you are putting them in a ghetto, we would say.”
Prime Minister John Key recently said the Government is trying to address the housing crisis by encouraging community groups to build and manage social housing themselves.
He said the income related rent policy established by government for Housing New Zealand will be applicable to community groups. The policy allows renters whose income fall within the threshold to pay rent amounting to 25 per cent of their income, while the Government pays for the rest.
Ms Rutledge, however, said community groups do not have the equity.
“It’s all very well saying income related rents is enough to offer to social housing providers but actually if you’ve got to maintain a house, there are risks attached to our client base. You know, it’s an ongoing concern. It’s an ongoing financial risk,” she pointed out.
Ms Rutledge stressed community groups are not in a position to take on a project of this magnitude.
“It has got to be Housing New Zealand. We would like to see an increase in HNZ stock and we’d like to see it integrated in the whole of the Auckland area,” she said.
Ms Rutledge acknowledged the work done by Housing New Zealand in upgrading its houses. “The HNZ stock that they are upgrading and improving is really excellent quality. That they are making it warm and dry,” she said.
“At the moment, the biggest growth in HNZ stock for us and also other social housing provision is out west. And we had a lot of success in housing our families out west currently,”
Ms Rutledge said she does not believe the average New Zealander understands all the issues around homelessness. “People act if they know,” she said, explaining this is why the subject should be raised.
“Our major concern is families living for many years in really substandard places, like basements or carports,” she said.
De Paul House had recently taken in a young pregnant woman whose child will be one of a third generation born to homelessness unless a safe dwelling is found for them.
Ms Rutledge said there was a family De Paul House helped who lived in a carport and put packing crates up against the carport’s supports and had awning wrapped around the entire area to make it weatherproof.