Government must address council housing rent gap

The Green Party has launched an open letter calling on the Minister of Housing to extend the Income Related Rent Subsidy to council housing tenants so no one is having to choose between heating their home, eating, or paying rent.

“Behind the front door of many council homes are parents gripped by anxiety, wondering how they will put food on their table or pay the bills; young people having to rely on friends and family to cover their rent; or senior citizens worried about the cost of putting the heater on,” says Ricardo Menéndez March, the Green Party’s spokesperson for Seniors and Social Development.

“The Green Party is calling on the Minister of Housing to help ease some of this stress by extending the Income Related Rent Subsidy to all council housing tenants. This will ensure that no council tenant is paying more than 25% of their income on rent, meaning they have more money in their pockets to put towards meeting other basic needs.

“Right now, the rules set out by previous governments mean that council tenants are not eligible for rent subsidies, while those living in other forms of public housing are. In other words, someone can move into a council home and find themselves having to pay more of their income towards rent for reasons completely out of their hands.

“There is no reason to have this two-tiered support system for rent relief – and it can be easily addressed in a way that brings benefits for everyone in the community.

“The wellbeing of people, whānau, and communities starts with warm, dry, affordable homes. If someone cannot afford to pay their rent, or there are not enough homes being built, then everyone is affected.

“Extending the Income Related Rent Subsidy will make sure that all social housing tenants can afford their rent. It would also support councils to maintain and upgrade their council housing stock, while also providing resources so they can build more public housing and expand who is eligible for it.

“We call on the Minister of Housing to take urgent action so that some of the most vulnerable in our community can not only pay their rent, but put food on table and stay warm,” says Ricardo Menéndez March.

ENDS

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