Archives for posts with tag: Housing Crisis

Desperately sad story from the Herald about the housing crisis in Christchurch, and how it’s hitting certain people hardest. I’ve been looking for a new place to live, and have found that the rents are too damn high. This was confirmed by MoBIE:

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment report weekly market rents have risen across the city by an average of $65 in the last year.

$65 a week. Think about that. It works out at $3380 per year. How many people got a $3400 pay rise last year (excluding Tony Marryatt)? Yet just last week, when Grant Robertson proposed a rent freeze, the banks and the housing Minister were all wheeled out to say that the market was doing fine, and it would sort it out, no worries at all. What planet are they on?

After what seems like half a year of trying, the pressure on Gerry Brownlee has finally seen him do something about the housing problem in the city. I say problem, because while critics call it a “crisis”, Brownlee still maintains that what we have are “difficulties”. He says housing difficulties, in the face of overwhelming evidence from the news media that has shown people living in what are frankly third-world conditions across the city, especially in the east. Many of those who are fortunate enough to have houses are paying exorbitant increases in rents, as the market tightens.

However, I’ve talked about the housing crisis before, and I don’t intend to go into it again here. What both interests and frightens me is the way Brownlee seems to be only selectively listening to the people on the ground. The CERA legislation created a powerful organisation, with a strong hierarchical command structure. This top-down approach is key to getting important decisions made quickly, and then executed in an appropriate time-frame. There are also downsides to taking such an approach. Because of the powers concentrated at the top of this hierarchy – powers which are the most over-arching ever given outside of wartime in this country – there isn’t a problem unless Gerry says there is a problem. Forget the reality – a crisis isn’t a crisis unless Gerry says it’s a crisis.

What this approach lacks is the flexibility to respond to a rapidly changing situation, the transparency to properly explain difficult decisions, and the compassion to appeal to the delicate states which so many people living in the city find themselves in. Brownlee has been portrayed as a bulldozer, a bully, a wrecking ball – and doesn’t seem to mind such analogies. There were times when that approach might have been appropriate – but right now, our city needs a softer touch.