Housing New Zealand figures reveal that the National Government is engaged in a stealth sell-off of a major public asset - our state housing stock, Green Party housing spokesperson Holly Walker said today.
Answers provided by Housing New Zealand to the Social Services select committee for the 2011/12 Financial Review show that sales of state houses have more than doubled under National, from 101 in the 2008 financial year to 217 in the 2012 financial year.
In total, Housing New Zealand divested itself of 534 properties last financial year, compared to 390 properties two year earlier. At the same time, Housing New Zealand acquired just 235 properties, down from 706 two years earlier. That resulted in a net loss of 310 state houses in the 2012 financial year.
"National is quietly selling off one of our greatest public assets, our state housing stock, which provides housing to hundreds of thousands of Kiwis in need," said Ms Walker.
"Last year, National sold over 200 state houses and decreased the state housing stock by a net 310 homes. This comes at a time when 4,600 families are on the waiting list for a state house.
"National has said it will build 2,000 houses in a half-hearted response to the housing affordability crisis but these figures show that National built just 68 state houses last year.
"Very few of the houses that National is selling are being bought by the families living in them. Just 25 state houses were bought by tenants last year. The bulk of the remaining 200 will have ended up in the hands of property investors.
"The Greens have announced a Progressive Ownership model that will give families on low and medium incomes an affordable pathway to home ownership by buying equity in their Crown-owned home," said Ms Walker.
Housing New Zealand figures show that 3,358 state houses are sitting empty, of which 1,730 are in 'lettable' condition and 594 are 'pending sale'. The average turnaround between tenancies has increased from 37 days in 2008/09 to 68 days in 2011/12.
"There are over 2,300 state houses that families could be living in but which are sitting empty," said Ms Walker.
"The average period that state houses are sitting empty between tenants has nearly doubled in the past four years to 68 days.
"This suggests the Government is more focused on selling off state houses than on helping families in need," said Ms Walker.