A guest post by Peter Faafiu, General Manager Corporate Affairs and Engagement for the Tāmaki Regeneration Company:
Re the post covering the Hikoi for Homes group. As often is the case facts have gone astray in Sue’s Opinion Piece.
She says that social housing tenants in Glen Innes are fighting a rear guard action against housing intensification in the area. There are approximately 16,000 residents in the Tamaki area (Glen Innes, Point England, Panmure). About half of these residents are living in social housing (currently owned by Housing NZ). Out of thousands of tenants, in two and half years that the Tamaki Regeneration Company (TRC) has been operating, the largest protest group has been 20 persons. Funnily enough the majority happen to be members of the Mana Party. Of that group of 20 individuals, about half are actually tenants, the others are full time protestors or social studies students at university. Below is some of my responses to this Hikoi’s objectives from a Tamaki perspective. It’s all public information.
In Tamaki, we have the Tamaki Commitment where those in social homes who wish to remain in the area will have the opportunity to do so. We fought for this policy for our people. The most interesting element of the policy is that some social housing tenants have rejected new homes because once given the choice, they look at their family circumstances and sayI wish to move to another part of Auckland because of these reasons. Over the last two years, Housing NZ have done an excellent job in implementing the Tamaki Commitment. Families move out of the area for a number of reasons like work, church, their extended family, safety and security reasons, or just want a new start somewhere else. When they do make that choice to leave, this is seen by these protest groups as TRC pushing them out of the area.
• An immediate stop to the sell-off of state and council housing
Tamaki Regeneration Company (TRC) is a Crown/Council owned company. Some of these groups lecture Government and councils about the home being the centre of issues. TRC agrees as does our Shareholders and that is why housing redevelopment is one of four key objectives for TRC. The other three are placemaking (i.e. infrastructure), social regeneration (particularly education, health) and economic development. All elements are inter-connected and must move together.
HNZ’s current portfolio in Tamaki of 2,800 houses will be transferred to TRC on 31 March 2016. TRC is a special purpose vehicle that will be only for the people of Tamaki whether it be landlord, procurer of development or catalyst of change. Funnily enough, we are getting enquiries from social housing tenants in South and West Auckland asking us how can they be a social housing tenant in Tamaki! In addition to that, the Government provided TRC a $200 million loan to start development in the quickly so that Tamaki residents (as well as wider Auckland) can be housed appropriately.
• A $1 billion annual budget for the provision of more public and other not-for-profit housing.
• Setting minimum standards for all rented housing
The majority of houses in Tamaki were built in the 1950s. The majority of them are 3 bedroom homes. In place of these 2,800 houses, TRC has been tasked to procure the development of a minimum 7,500 homes. The same number will go back into social housing but they will be warm and insulated and fit for our current and future resident base. The rest will be sold as affordable products, assisted affordable products and full market products. That is where sustainability of the model is critical. The majority of people in Tamaki understand the role of the State however they also understand their role as citizen. A programme which equates to receiving a hand out every year is not a sustainable one.
• Greater tenure protection for tenants
Housing assessments in Tamaki will still be undertaking by MSD when houses/tenancies are transferred over to TRC. However, these protest groups actually have this view that all social housing tenants want to stay in a social home. Again the majority of our residents understand that social housing is about helping people in their time of vulnerability.
I do wish that these groups actually come and see us as our office is in the community (GI Town Centre). Over 40 community groups and hundreds of residents take up that opportunity.
I also should add that the Tamaki area has about 40% which currently live in private rental or own their homes. They are residents too.
• State subsidies for modest income home ownership programmes
There a number of community housing providers (CHPs) in New Zealand. Some of them undertake rent to own and shared equity schemes. My brother and his family was fortunate enough to be part of a Habitat rent to own scheme. TRC wants to establish more schemes like this in Tamaki however the same groups who wish for such schemes are also against CHPs receiving some of these former State homes as part of their portfolio. You cannot have it both ways.
Finally, TRC’s current staff numbers sit at about 35; of these about half were raised in Tamaki, live in Tamaki or have whakapapa back to the area. On our Board we have members who also have a connection to the area.
I was raised in Glen Innes and was part of the establishment of TRC and sit on its Leadership Team. Having been raised in the State housing system, I have worked hard to own my home and I hope my children will do better than me.
Whilst groups such as the Tamaki Housing Action Group and their political networks call us ‘traitors’ and ‘scum’, we are driven by our kaupapa to provide for our community and set them up to be good productive members of the wider society.
These protest groups can have their hikoi and huis; but we prefer to build high quality homes, provide jobs, reduce the number of people the State is supporting, and provide opportunities for our residents to move from dependence to independence like many others before them.