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Council wants rent subsidies reinstated for social housing tenants

Report from RNZ
The Wellington City Council is calling on the government to urgently reinstate rent subsidies for people living in the city’s social housing.

Councillor Brian Dawson, who holds the housing portfolio, moved an amendment during a meeting this morning asking the government to extend subsidies to the council’s tenants.

Unlike those of Housing New Zealand or other approved housing providers, city council tenants were not eligible for the government’s rent assistance. A law change under the previous government excluded council housing.

The current government had acknowledged that should be reversed, but had told Mr Dawson it would look at it in its next term.

Mr Dawson said he understood the government was financially restricted, but he saw it as a game-changer, as the city worked out a way to make its social housing financially sustainable.

Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the amendment.

A report written in October last year showed only one third of tenants in the council’s housing paid what was considered affordable rent – 35 percent or less of their income on rent, and 41 percent paid more than 45 percent of their income on rent.

The report found there was a fundamental disconnect between being able to provide high quality social housing to all tenants, being affordable to both low income tenants and the council, and being 100 percent funded by those low income tenants.

Mr Dawson’s amendent was made during discussions on a scoping paper looking at the city’s housing policy

The policy would have social housing tenants, who currently pay 70 percent of the market rate, be means tested with their rent based on their circumstances, including how much they earn.

An amendment was made this morning that officers look at mitigating any negative financial impact that might have on existing tenants.

Mayor Justin Lester said the change was about fairness to tenants. “They’ve come into our premises on the basis that they won’t, unless their circumstances chance, be required to have a $20 a $40 a $60 or an $80 increase.”

Mr Lester agreed there needed to be a change to make city housing more financially sustainable. Mr Lester said that did not mean no increases for anybody, but he wanted to give officers a steer that he did not want a “hard landing” for tenants under the policy.

Mr Dawson said the housing policy was never intended to give licence to pass on 30 percent rent rises overnight. However, if the council sat on its hands, as previous councils had, it would run out of time, he said.

“We do have to make some tough decisions but I’m with saying let’s make sure we are not disadvantaging people who are already disadvantaged.”

Council officers will now do more modelling on the policy, and come back to council with more scenarios to consider.

3 comments:

  1. Diane Calvert, 22. June 2018, 17:38

    The govt is taking tax from our citizens to only fund rent subsidies on HNZ properties. As a city we our doing our best and central govt needs to step up and share the love. [via twitter]

     
  2. Citizen Joe, 22. June 2018, 20:58

    We don’t need more people! We need to get the message across to all governments across the world that population control is as important, if not more important, than climate change control.

    We should be looking to Japan for our example. Japan is reducing its population.

     
  3. Concerned Wellingtonian, 23. June 2018, 8:11

    This is incredible! Thanks to Councillor Calvert for pointing out the folly of having the WCC doing the government’s job by being involved with social housing when the government is not paying us what everybody else is getting. Are we still paying a developer for Shelly Bay without requiring any social housing?