The Press on Council housing

March 19th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press editorial:

On the face of it, the attack last week by the Minister for Earthquake Recovery, Gerry Brownlee, appears to be amply justified.

While there may be room for quibbling about the exact numbers, the pace with which the has repaired and replaced the social housing damaged by the earthquakes has been slow.

Quoting from the council’s own latest report, the council has closed 327 social housing units but has managed, in a programme that is supposed to be urgent, to repair and relet only six of them.

Astonishing.

Brownlee is quite right to draw attention to it and to try to set a fire under councillors to get something done about it.

His singling out of Cr for criticism was, however, misdirected. It is possible to understand the minister’s temptation to target Johanson. In the political spectrum of the council, Johanson sits on the gadfly Left wing.

After some years in office, he still has the slightly bumptious and irritating air of the student politician about him. He is also not slow to criticise the performance of others.

Indeed.

So when the council fails in a serious responsibility he appears to be in charge of, one can see how taking a swipe at him would be hard to resist.

It is, nonetheless, unfair.

For one thing, while Johanson is chairman of the committee that is in charge of the social housing stock, he is only one councillor among the others. He is not like a minister of the Crown. Any failure with repairs to social housing lies not with Johanson alone but with the other councillors on his committee and with the whole council.

I agree, Johanson is not solely responsible. However his share of responsibility must be greater than other Councillors as he chairs the committee in charge.

Taking the opportunity provided by Brownlee’s broadside to have a dig of his own at Johanson, Cr Aaron Keown suggested there were tensions between Johanson’s committee and council staff that were impeding progress on repair work.

If that is correct, the remedy is not, as Keown suggested, to transfer the work to the committee on which Keown sits, but for any difficulties to be identified and fixed. Council staff must provide councillors with prompt, accurate, complete information, and councillors must provide staff with clear and precise directions.

It is hard to say what the solution is, until we know what the problem is. The Council needs to clarify why it has only been able to fix six houses in two years and what changes are necessary to speed this up.

It was almost exactly a year ago that Brownlee lit a rocket under the Housing Corporation for its apparent lethargy on getting state houses repaired and replaced. More action quickly followed.

Beleaguered city council tenants will be hoping his latest blast will be as effective.

That would be good.

Personally this reinforces my belief that Councils should not be landlords. They tend to be very bad at it, and providing community housing is better done by Housing NZ and community groups. If the Council was not the owner, I suspect many more of those houses or apartments would be repaired by now.

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11 Responses to “The Press on Council housing”

  1. wrightingright (143 comments) says:

    DPF, you say:
    “Personally this reinforces my belief that Councils should not be landlords. They tend to be very bad at it, and providing community housing is better done by Housing NZ and community groups. If the Council was not the owner, I suspect many more of those houses or apartments would be repaired by now.”

    Yet just beforehand you quoted:
    “It was almost exactly a year ago that Brownlee lit a rocket under the Housing Corporation for its apparent lethargy on getting state houses repaired and replaced.”

    I somehow don’t understand your logic as to how that follows we should have a Housing NZ for the government to run houses either… seems like both levels of government should get of being landlords!

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  2. Redbaiter (8,923 comments) says:

    The face of socialism.

    Nothing gets done in this country.

    And those trying to do things are hampered and hobbled by a legion of no hopers.

    Committees, clipboards, confusion and political corruption.

    Johanson and his buddies in Christchurch are just the tip of the iceberg. The country is full of these useless prosperity destroying Marxists. They’re in influential positions in media, in education, in central government and in local government, and like the white ants they are, they are destroying the foundations of our prosperity and freedom from the inside.

    If we had been invaded and conquered by the Cubans it probably wouldn’t be much worse.

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  3. lazza (381 comments) says:

    Councils, with the notable exception of ChCh City, (Wgton? … and a few minor others) have long ago “got out of” pensioner and soc sec type housing. So why not ChCh?

    Perhaps because there is truth to the notion that they see themselves as Social Services-Custodians … instead of, as the law now requires … as providors of basic cost-effective core service community infrastructure.

    Maybe someone should show them the new amended, Dec 2012 LG Act S. 14 “Purposes”!

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  4. pq (728 comments) says:

    Excellent article Farrar, but we ceratinly do have trouble with the Mayor. He wants to do business.
    The thing is if we retain assets, who will run them.

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  5. Rich Prick (1,705 comments) says:

    lazza, it has long been referred to as The Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Christchurch. And with good reason.

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  6. pq (728 comments) says:

    You could come down to our City and get off the aeroplane at the sad airport designed by architect iditiot. You could travel the roads in your 4 wheel drive . You could ask why we need covered stadiums or convention centres 150 million each ,in a dying city. You could ask why NZ Nat Govt does not sack the entire Christchurch City Council. We
    are so poor we only vote Labour anyway, Gerry Brownlie has done a bloody good job with morons around him.

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  7. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Christchurch City is the country’s second biggest housing owner. It would be wise to reduce its house numbers to take the pressure off ratepayers stumping up for the local share of earthquake recovery.

    The council’s social housing shelters many deserving local poor, ill, and aged, but it also attracts to the city from around the country and even overseas newly released convicts, drug addicts, unemployables, mental incurables, and general no-hopers who find it difficult to rent a flat or house elsewhere.

    Roads, water, sewerage, electricity, sports fields, parks, libraries should be the council’s focus rather than back-door socialism.

    However, the reason the Christchurch Press is raising the matter, wouldn’t be unrelated to the fact that this lumpenproletariat doesn’t buy newspapers, would it now?

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  8. iMP (2,385 comments) says:

    The real joke in Chch is what some of these ugly community housing pill boxes are called “Norman Kirk Courts” and other Labour nomenclatures. The criticism of Yani is fair: he’s spent his whole Council career criticising others. Bob gave him a real job, now he knows what its like actually having to work and not snipe at others with rolled up sleeves.

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  9. KevinH (1,227 comments) says:

    That Southern parochial discrimination strikes again, ( Christchurch, a city of snobs). Who can forget how the Council dragged it’s sorry ass on assisting those in the eastern suburbs, who are still struggling on today with portaloo’s and damaged infrastructure that still hasn’t been attended to despite the millions pumped in by central government. Shame on them.

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  10. Lloyd (125 comments) says:

    We ARE NOT A DYING CITY. Christchurch was a great place and will be again in the future. I’m staying here.
    We do have a lame-arse Council who seem inept at fixing things and fulsome at buying things (Ellerslie Flower Show, anyone?). In the same paper that contained Gerry’s IMHO well-directed broadside at Johanson, (who has spent years whinging and sniping at all around him has shown he is not up to actually doing anything) there was a report about a private company building 100 apartments here. In the same time Johanson can fix a few flats, the private sector can design and get started on building over 100. Says it all, really!

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  11. Viking2 (11,471 comments) says:

    Well if they sold plenty of their assets then they would have the money to spend. Instead they have clung onto them to keep themselves in koha whilst charging other councils at an exhorbitant rate for their services.

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