Govt cancels sale of Christchurch state houses

Thousands of families will not have new landlords after the Government stopped the sale of up to 2500 state houses in Christchurch.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford made the announcement yesterday at the first state house in Miramar, Wellington — 80 years after it was opened.

Mr Twyford said the announcement fulfilled a promise in the Government’s 100-day programme to stop the sell-off of state houses.

‘‘Tenants in the suburbs of Shirley, Bryndwr and Riccarton had been told they were likely to have a new landlord by mid next year. This week, they will receive letters telling them their homes will not be sold.

‘‘I’m pleased these families will be able to enjoy Christmas without the uncertainty this sale would create.’’

The homes - 39% of the state house stock in Christchurch, including the Bryndwr house that former prime minister John Key grew up in - were going to be sold to private social housing providers.

It was part of the previous government’s plan to diversify ownership of social housing, which was meant to increase the overall social housing stock — with mixed results.

Attempts to find buyers for 348 state houses in Invercargill and 249 in Horowhenua failed, but a buyer was found for 1124 in Tauranga.

As part of the Christchurch deal, the winning bidder would have had to build 150 social houses in Christchurch, and the 2500 houses would remain as social housing and could not be sold unless the Government agreed.

Mr Twyford said community housing providers still had an important role to play in housing those in need.

‘‘But the first and last provider of public housing must be the state.’’

The Government plans to build at least 1000 state homes every year, with Mr Twyford aiming for 2000.

He said some state houses would still be sold.

‘‘While this is the end of large-scale state housing sell-offs, Housing NZ will be rejuvenating its stock by building and buying newer homes where they are most needed and selling houses that are no longer fit for purpose. 

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