Christchurch social housing sell-off "heartless" - PSA

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Nearly half of Christchurch’s Housing New Zealand stock is to be sold off by the government, in a move the PSA describes as "heartless".

The government has announced that up to 2500 houses will be sold to private investors or NGOs, out of a total of around 6500.

The PSA’s National Secretary Glenn Barclay says the government’s sell-off of social housing is a policy failure, badly timed and clumsily implemented.

"We’re concerned at the impact this sell-off will have on our members at Housing New Zealand - and on the vulnerable families who are their tenants," PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay says.

"Christchurch’s housing market has yet to fully recover from the 2010 and 2011 quakes, the rebuild is still ongoing and the Kaikoura quake will also have an impact on demand.

"It’s also heartless to introduce this uncertainty into the lives of tenants and employees just before Christmas."

Mr Barclay says further questions are raised after the failure of the Horowhenua sell-down - and Invercargill before it.

"This latest sell-off of state houses is just one more step in the government’s Social Housing Reform programme, which has been a failure.

"Community organisations don’t have the capital to buy these houses, and private investors can’t make big enough profits.

"The process is costly, stressful and exhausting for staff and diverts resources away from where they should be focused.

"Housing New Zealand has proven that it can deliver, when it has the mandate and resources.

"The PSA calls on the government to abandon this failed experiment and instead resource HNZ properly to rebuild and maintain existing housing stock."

Mr Barclay says the PSA will seek assurances from the government that Housing New Zealand staff will be employed by whoever purchases the houses.