28 Jun 2015

Selling to Australian provider 'makes no sense'

7:31 am on 28 June 2015

Social housing groups say it would make no sense for the Government to sell state houses to a community housing provider from Australia.

Housing New Zealand says the demand now is for larger homes, and smaller one bedroom units.

State houses Photo: RNZ / Teresa Cowie

Gold Coast-based provider, Horizon Housing has been looking at the houses this week and says it wants to buy at least 400.

The company said it was looking forward to developing a mutually beneficial relationship with colleagues in New Zealand and share lessons learnt by from Queensland's movement of social housing tenancy management.

It said it also wanted to learn from the best practice examples in New Zealand.

But director of Community Housing Aotearoa Scott Figenshow said he was not impressed with this latest development.

"It's terribly disappointing to learn our Government might find a tyre kicker from overseas who may not peak under the covers enough and pay them a bit more for the houses, when local providers know a lot of investment is needed, and we're just not seeing all the settings yet to make that happen," he said.

Sue Henry from the Housing Lobby does not believe that it would be in the best interest of tenants.

"Providing housing to the needy is a function for the Government, not an overseas company," she said.

The Green Party said that Horizon Housing could become one of New Zealand's wealthiest landlords if it was allowed to buy up state houses.

But Housing New Zealand Minister Bill English said the Green Party's argument was simply hypothesis.

"The important thing here is what happens with our tenants and our communities where tenants need a better deal and a better pipeline to housing independence and our communities need to do a better job of redeveloping these social housing areas and that's the expertise we're interested in."

"The Greens can say what they like, it's not that relevant really."

The Government plans to sell thousands of state houses to social-housing providers by 2017 and said it would sell its state houses to anyone who could improve the lives of the tenants.

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