Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Minister ‘dismayed’ by vacant social housing figures

The number of new social houses sitting vacant across New Zealand is completely unacceptable, Housing Minister, Chris Bishop said today.

The Minister said he was “dismayed” to learn that, as of late last year, the total number of vacant social homes in New Zealand was 3,906, or 5% of New Zealand’s total public housing stock.

“It’s simply not okay that 786, almost 20%, of the new public homes delivered by Kāinga Ora – Homes & Communities between June 2022 and October 2023 were vacant as of 31 October 2023,” he said.

“Of these new homes, 287 were empty for more than four months despite thousands of families waiting for social homes such as these.”

Mr Bishop says he has written to the Board of Kāinga Ora – Homes & Communities to make clear his expectation that, with over 25,000 people on the social housing waitlist, social homes are “not to be left empty for a day longer than absolutely necessary”. 

“It is disgraceful that New Zealanders needing a warm, dry home for their family are waiting in motel rooms, in cars and on family members’ couches while hundreds of newly built social housing units sit empty,” he said.

“While I understand there may be instances where, for valid reasons, it takes time to fill a new home, the timeframes identified in this response are well beyond what I consider appropriate. 

“It is critical that Kāinga Ora – Homes & Communities is focused on efficiently placing tenants into social housing across New Zealand and works with much greater urgency to do so. 

“I look forward to receiving the report from the independent review led by Sir Bill English and discussing with Kāinga Ora – Homes & Communities what needs to change, and how,” said Mr Bishop.

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