“KiwiBuild is great for middle class New Zealanders with higher household incomes. But … KiwiBuild properties are not helpful to our working poor or to those in poverty because they’re totally out of reach and unaffordable.”
Limited insight and planning has also raised major concerns for community housing providers, Smith said
“For instance, in Māngere – just one of many projects that the Government is working on at the moment – 2700 state homes are going to be demolished and 3000 state homes are going to be rebuilt, but in a third of the land area.
“The other two-thirds are going to be KiwiBuild and affordable.
“By my estimations, in 2700 homes there now, there’s probably 12,000 to 15,000 people in those homes. Multiply that to be 10,000 homes [on the site in total] and we’re looking at 25,000 to 30,000 people living on the same land mass.
“That’s 30,000 human beings of different cultures, different religions, differing values and life, living in the same space as 12,000 people used to.
“The Government says it’s got it sorted. Housing New Zealand will be resourced to meet this intensification and for staff to deal with high and complex tenants who are allocated off the top 5 percent of the housing register – in other words, our community’s most vulnerable.
“I would suggest … this model will become a community trainwreck in three to five years,” Smith told the lecture.
And he has reason to fear this:
Smith spent about seven years working in Cairns redoing the government’s “intensified” state housing model.
“Years after the intensification, the government spent millions on what they called ‘Community Renewal’,” he said.
“They demolished homes, they created open green spaces for community activities, they sold some of their state houses off to private homeowners, and pepper-potted in the community.
“They also remodelled the odd house to create a community property centre that also had government tenancy staff and government community development staff resident there five days a week.”
That worked for about a year or two, Smith said dryly.
However, once the playground equipment was damaged and repaired too often to justify ongoing maintenance, parks became drug exchange locations, and sex and other illegal activities meant they were no longer used by children.
You need more than just houses. You do need green spaces and playgrounds and facilities.