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All I want for Christmas

by Conor Hill
I might be a little bit late to the party, but well done Labour on such a convincing election win. Now the handbrake is off, we get to see what they’ll deliver for Wellington. My Christmas wishlist is long, but today I’m going to focus on two specific requests – building a new master-planned community in eastern Wellington, and extending income-related rents to council housing tenants.

Income-related Rents

Labour needs to make rent cheaper for our council housing tenants.

In New Zealand there are three kinds of social housing provider – the state, community housing providers, and councils. If you’re a lower income tenant in a state houses or in community housing, you only pay 25% of your income in rent. The state covers the rest.

But lower income tenants in council housing aren’t eligible for this subsidy, and so pay more rent. This is a crazy discrepancy and no-one quite knows why council housing tenants should be worse off.

This oversight has the biggest effect here in Wellington city. This is because we are far and away the biggest provider of council housing in the country. We have more council housing than Auckland which has eight times our population.

It’s time for Labour to close this loophole and make life better – and fairer – for thousands of council tenants in Wellington and throughout the country.

A masterplanned community for Miramar

For more than a year, various Labour party MPs and local body politicians have been talking about their desire to turn 9 holes of the Miramar golf course into housing. Paul Eagle, Teri O’Neil, Fleur Fitzsimons…. the list goes on.

It’s an area that both Labour and National agree will one day be connected by mass transit to the CBD. It’s near some of the city’s largest private sector employers and there are great green spaces and beaches nearby.

Given all of this, it’s an opportunity to masterplan a large scale development including a mix of social homes, kiwi builds and maybe even some market rate housing.

It would be great to see some movement to bring all this to life. I’m sure that local MP Paul Eagle has been working hard behind the scenes to make this a reality and I look forward to seeing the fruit of his labour. I’m not necessarily expecting houses up anytime soon, but a land purchase, a masterplan, and some construction contracts would be great to see in the next year or two.

Housing is a massive headache, both in Wellington and nationally. Neither proposal outlined above is any kind of silver bullet. However making rent affordable for council tenants should be basic bread and butter for Labour. And seeing movement on the Miramar proposal would be a good sign that Labour will follow through on the housing promises they have made.

4 comments:

  1. David Mackenzie, 8. December 2020, 9:47

    Best wishes for Christmas. May all your dreams come true.

     
  2. Dave B (Wellington), 8. December 2020, 11:16

    @ Conor: Just a little correction to your claim that Auckland has eight times Wellington’s population. I think you may be comparing Wellington City’s population (212,700) with Auckland Region’s population (1,717,500).

    The equivalent figure for Wellington Region is 542,000. Therefore Auckland has just over three times Wellington’s population. (Source: Wikipedia. Other websites give various different figures).

     
  3. Claire, 8. December 2020, 11:39

    Conor thanks for your article. For once I agree with you and the tone of your ideas. Yes we need houses more than a golf course. Hopefully it comes to fruition. We have social houses in Newtown and we could have some more. What we don’t need are too expensive apartments that will push people really in need, out of Newtown.

     
  4. Conor, 8. December 2020, 12:31

    Dave B – I could have been clearer. When I said Wellington city, I was meaning the council area, as you point out (I should have just put City in caps). It is this entity which owns more council houses than Auckland council with its 8 times larger population.