Labour on housing

John Hartevelt at Stuff reports:

Labour is urging a “hard look” at the accommodation supplement, amid claims landlords are pocketing a $1.2b “subsidy” despite providing substandard .

Housing spokeswoman said the Salvation Army had warned in the 1990s that the supplement to support low-income people would turn in to a subsidy for landlords – and that had happened.

Where is the proof for this claim that it has turned into a subsidy for landlords? Is Annette King saying that landlords are charging more to someone who is eligible for the accommodation supplement?

“It is a major subsidy for landlords but it hasn’t produced better housing or more access to housing or an ability for people to buy housing,” Ms King said.

It is not a subsidy for landlords. It is a subsidy for low income tenants who are renting.

“If we just let it keep growing year after year as more and more people struggle to pay rent, then we are doing nothing in terms of changing the ability to house people and it’s time that we had a highly focused look at how do you turn that into something that is a whole lot better.”

The supplement is paid in addition to other welfare payments at varying rates, depending on circumstances. It is meant to help cover rent, board or home ownership costs.

In 2007, the Government paid $877m through the supplement, but it is expected to top $1.2b this year.

If Labour is proposing abolishing the accommodation supplement, then they should say so. You could divert the $1.2b a year into new state homes through Housing NZ, which are then provided at 25% of people’s incomes. I suspect this is what they want to do.

The problem with this though is those low income families who get into a Housing NZ home get massive state support, while those low income families who do not get into a Housing NZ home would get zero, nil, nothing.

Ms King said the supplement supported people in rental accommodation but a lot of the houses were “incredibly poor quality”.

“Some of it is absolutely appalling housing and landlords take whatever the accommodation supplement is and add it to their rent,” she said.

Again, proof? Labour are smearing tens of thousands of landlords with this allegation.

“I think we need to take a hard look at how we could turn some of that accommodation supplement into providing affordable, decent, warm housing and how we could turn some of it into people being able to own their own housing.”

She did not know exactly how that might work but said it should be discussed.

So Labour actually has no alternative. They just wanted to smear evil landlords.

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