Simon Collins at NZ Herald reports:
Housing NZ chief executive Dr Lesley McTurk has told the corporation’s 1100 staff that staff numbers will be cut by about 100 as the agency’s focus narrows down to managing its 70,000 state houses.
“We will no longer have a role to assist individuals with their wider social needs. We will concentrate on their accommodation needs,” she said.
Most tenancy managers will become “fully mobile” by next September, reporting from their cars to five home bases in central and South Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch.
Housing NZ should indeed focus on being a great landlord, not an agency of social workers.
Labour housing spokeswoman Moana Mackey said a Labour Government would reverse the changes and turn Housing NZ back into “a social housing provider rather than just another landlord”.
But a consultation document issued to staff a week ago says the agency would “stop delivering social services that should be delivered by other organisations”.
“Tenancy managers and case managers frequently find themselves following up with many other agencies such as Child, Youth and Family [CYFS] on child safety concerns; district health boards on health; budget services; school truancy issues and so on,” the document says.
“The Ministry of Social Development [MSD] will act as a conduit for all other agencies that need to provide social support to the corporation’s tenants.”
Dr McTurk said all existing Housing NZ branches would be absorbed gradually into MSD’s “Community Link” centres, which already bring together Work and Income, CYFS and sometimes other agencies in 50 locations. A further 30 are planned in the next year.
And that is probably one of the best things you can do to help families in need. A “one stop shop” centre which brings all the social need agencies together should be vastly superior to having each agency doing its own thing.
Let Housing NZ be a great landlord, and MSD be a great social service provider.