New Zealand: Northlanders Living in Cars as Housing Crisis Hits Hard

New Zealand: Northlanders Living in Cars as Housing Crisis Hits Hard

May 21st, 2018

We had a couple with five children turn up to Playcentre. They’re living in tents. They fled Wellington with a plan to build some sort of shack on a small piece of land that they bought a couple of valleys over from us. Until that happens: Tents. Both mum and dad had been in the IT field. *chortle*

We are seeing every manner of outlaw dwelling imaginable going up all over this area. Shipping containers. Yurts. Old buses. Uninsulated garden shed-type structures. Cob. Re-cycled houses, which are teardowns from other areas that have been put on trucks and dropped in cow paddocks.

There are many factors contributing to the mess up here. I’ll just touch on three.

First, Northland is very poor compared to the rest of the country and property prices are relatively low—if you’re from Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch. So you have people selling out of the cities, quite literally running for the hills, driving prices higher. People who were poor to begin with in Northland are finding it even more difficult to find housing. The next thing you know, people are aspiring to live in shipping containers with a couple of solar panels for power.

Second, it’s extremely expensive to build a legal dwelling in New Zealand. In the Far North, since so many people live in upmermitted homes, the council seems to want to severely stick it to anyone who tries to comply. Everyone knows this and increasingly they’re saying, “F-it. I’ll live in a shack.”

Third, it’s hard to find places to rent. I don’t see this mentioned much, but here’s why it’s hard to rent in Northland: Property owners know that if they rent out a house up here, they could easily wind up with a deadbeat renter who’s difficult and expensive to dislodge or a renter who trashes the property. A meth lab operation is another real possibility.

There have been so many nightmare situations with renting that property owners would rather not deal with it. And why risk renting when property prices have never been higher? If someone has an extra house, it’s easy to sell it for a relative fortune to people fleeing Auckland.

NZ is billed as some sort of Switzerland of the South pacific. Maybe, for a few people, but the reality on the ground is very different.

The new government is apparently going to crack down on foreign property speculators, but that’s not going to solve the problem. The government could tell wealthy foreigners, “Sure, you can buy your doomstead, but you have to build two more houses for sale, one in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch and one in some other district. We would be getting two new homes for sale for every one bought by a speculator. Don’t worry. It’ll never happen.

How about some sort of inexpensive and fast way for councils to approve smaller dwellings?

The way permitting is done now, with the breathtaking fees and Kafkaesque red tape and delays, just has to change.

Via: New Zealand Herald:

Northlanders are living in cars and cowsheds amidst a public housing crisis that won’t be solved by plans to build or buy 147 houses by 2020, a community leader says.

One Double Five Community House co-ordinator Carol Peters said Northlanders were living on streets, in emergency houses, in overcrowded houses and even in cowsheds.

Peters said building cheaper houses was a way to alleviate the problem but that required partnership between the Government, local councils and community housing providers.

Her comments come as a Ministry of Social Development report revealed it is regularly paying more than $1 million each week to Northlanders for accommodation supplements (AS) and temporary additional support (TAS).

Related: Left Behind: Why Boomtown New Zealand Has a Homelessness Crisis




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