I am so glad I don’t live like blanket man did, that is the extreme end of homelessness, I am part of the vision of the national Governments property owning democracy, unfortunately this is a rapidly fading vision. I have experienced not knowing where I was going to lay my head at night, poorly heated un-insulated mould infested homes that made me sick. Currently I live in my own dry, relatively warm home, if I lived in Auckland not a chance, not a snowballs chance in hell. I earn around 2/3rds the average household income , less than the meridian income. If I were to live in a similar home in Auckland I would spend over half of my income on mortgage, rates and insurance. At approximately 1/3rd of my expenditure I can just survive right now.
I am fortunate to have bridged the deposit gap because of Government policy back in the 1980’s and have managed to hold on to a house despite periods of injury and a divorce. I am not well off by any means. What chance does a family on the minimum wage have? To rent a suitable home in Auckland that was dry and warm and in an area where my children could safely walk to the shops or play outside I would be paying 500.00 plus per week if not much more.
This is not a new crisis, it has been creeping along for a long time and now threatens to explode. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11465703. It hasn’t been addressed as of yet because it has not bitten at the people who hold the balance of power in New Zealand, the middle class. When this crisis really starts to bite then perhaps some action may be taken but every month it continues it worsens. Parents living with their adult children,and vice versa. Grandparents extended family altogether. This is what middle class will look like. It already happens with people in the low income zones and has been happening for years with the poor helping the poor.
Is there anything wrong with this I can hear people saying now? Well if it is by genuine choice, no, it is not as easy as it sounds however, there are all sorts of variables, I tend to like to have my own space (somewhere I can be and my partner/wife/ fiance) can be, just a quiet spot, a place to be. I have friends that I like to have over, if we all get on that’s great, otherwise parking gran and poppa off in their lazyboys in the garage as the kids get down and dirty with their filthy bass and drums dropping in the lounge, doof doof.
The problem with homelessness is structural, and the answer is structural. The market is artificially skewed (if you believe in market economies) by taxation advantages and lending policies. banks make money in lending, it is to their advantage that housing continues to rise and that the major forms of investment that New Zealanders use is property. Most of our Politicians own three or more properties, is it impolite to suggest that there are vested interests in the status quo?
We know that the value of something is determined by its scarcity and availability, it seems to be a simple equation then, increase supply then prices come down.. Of course that solution leaves the banks in an invidious position if the prices come down, many home owners will be in negative equity situations, so are there any solutions? Well how about a massive house building for rentals, a swag load of houses, good quality, warm dry and looking like all the others, in good sold streets, no more ghettos, a mixed ownership model, zero deposit, three percent interest all for first home owners. Capital gain if sold in the first ten years is split between the home owners and the government, any difference in interest rates is calculated and paid back. The Government has the land, it is a zero sum scheme because the homes will appear as assets on the governments balance sheet. Helping them towards their much vaunted surplus…
Hmm I think I am howling at the moon…. more to come on structural reasons for homelessness…