Low-income housing standards declining

Gillian Bremner.
Gillian Bremner.
The state of low-income private rental housing in Dunedin continues to decline at an alarming rate, Presbyterian Support Otago has revealed.

An ''Out in the Cold'' survey, conducted last year and released yesterday, investigated the quality of home heating, insulation, safety, soundness, value and the need for a common housing warrant of fitness.

PSO chief executive Gillian Bremner said compared with data from the 2004 survey ''Old, Cold and Costly'', the recent survey showed the standard of low-income rental housing in Dunedin was of serious concern.

In 2004, 36% of low-income housing in the city passed PSO's reasonable rental standard. That dropped to 23% in 2014, she said.

''Ten years after we first surveyed low-income families about their housing conditions, we've found fewer houses passed our reasonable rental standard assessment and, in one case, our researchers were sufficiently concerned for the tenant they referred the situation to our social workers.''

Mrs Bremner said the organisation was also concerned about the number of Dunedin houses being sold by Housing New Zealand to fund expansion in Auckland and Christchurch.

''Whilst we understand the urgent need for more government housing in those cities, we are concerned Dunedin will be left out in the cold with current political priorities.

''This document will be very useful in informing incoming government ministers and local body politicians about the plight of social housing in Dunedin.''

Mrs Bremner said housing was a fundamental human need and right, and civilised societies needed to make provision for low-income families to access affordable housing of reasonable quality.

''No-one should be forced to live in a house that's not weather-tight, cannot be adequately heated or have electrical safety issues because of their financial circumstances.''

The ''Out in the Cold'' survey findings were released by Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull to about 50 people at Presbyterian Support Otago yesterday.

Defective housing report

Lynden: The title of the article is appropriate to the report, but because the report is being used to promote a rental housing WoF for all rental houses, then I think it is useful to mention the narrow focus of the report.

My point was that, as shown in the report, the standard of homes surveyed has improved by most measures since 2004, and yet we get the full sob-story from the PSO about how things are getting worse "at an alarming rate". While the title "Low-income housing standards declining" is appropriate in its scope, it appears to be wrong in saying that standards are declining. Some of the methods of the survey were deficient, in my view, and so the report should be disregarded.


Jimmy you state" the properties chosen were selected mostly because the tenants had a low income. In general, low income means low rent and therefore lower quality properties" and were therefore "not a representative sample" , Look at the title " Low-income housing standards declining " they are exactly representative.

Dunedin housing improvements

The latest Presbyterian Support Otago (PSO) housing report claims that rental housing in Dunedin is of a low standard and is getting worse. PSO and some local politicians will take advantage of these claims to boost sympathy for their causes, but the report doesn't match reality.

The conclusions of the report do not match the data in the report. The report shows that three of the four main types of assessments actually improved since 2004 (see pages 18 & 19) and yet it claims that the number of properties passing all four of the assessments decreased (36% » 23%). This seems inconsistent and the report doesn't contain enough data to validate its conclusion and the claims of the chief executive, Gillian Bremner.

Also, keep in mind that the properties assessed were not a representative sample: the properties chosen were selected mostly because the tenants had a low income. In general, low income means low rent and therefore lower quality properties. Other factors also skewed the selection of the sample towards the worst properties and properties with defects. The report is an assessment mainly of the bottom of the market and the good news is that by most measures these properties have improved over the last ten years.

State housing benefit

Angel12: State houses will always be in short supply because of the high demand for the very low rents. Renters are financially better off in a state house compared to renting and receiving the accommodation allowance. You can expect there to be a waiting list.

The Presbyterian Support Otago (PSO) housing reports show that the number of Housing Corp houses is roughly unchanged from 2004 to 2014: they say there were 1500 (rounded) in 2004 and 1456 now. The rounding of the 2004 figure means that the precise number could be up to 50 houses more or less than 1500. If there has been any change, it is only a small one.

(The PSO reports are here )



Selling Housing Corp houses

"There is a shortage of houses, so why are we selling off the Housing Corp houses?"  The answer, Angel12, is that they are the wrong size.  People want houses with more or fewer bedrooms.  Don't think about it too hard, I did and only got a headache.  Being logical and not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, I immediately thought about what ordinary people do.  Many's the house I've seen with an extra room added on.  State houses were built on big sections with room for a big vege garden - seldom used.  There's space for another room or 2 to be added, and it would be a great deal cheaper than selling the house for peanuts then building a new one with more bedrooms.  Actually the sections are so large that there would on many of them be enough space for a 2-bedroom cottage too.  Thinking of a state house  friends of mine bought several years ago when they were being flogged off, there's enough room for a small house in front and another at the back of her place, and the basement could be insulated and lined to make another good bedroom.  But then I'm thinking in terms of decent basic but dignified standards of living for people who are in need of help from the state, not the kind of house one would like to buy if only one had a miraculous stroke of good fortune.

We are all cold

While I get the message, let's not forget everyone here in Dunedin lives in a cold damp home - not just the 'low income' families. I mean seriously, even with insulation top and bottom a home is still cold and damp. Insulation helps to keep heat in but how is that heat made? This is the 21st Century and for the most part it is still wood! It is a way of life for all families bar the very few who might live in a new build.


That is what the Housing Corp houses are for - those on low incomes. But when I enquired about a house for someone I was told that they needed to go to a rooming house. They were a young family on a very low wage. There is a shortage of houses, so why are we selling off the Housing Corp houses?

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