Christchurch has a new sports stadium - but the housing crisis in the eastern suburbs continues to be ignored. According to Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee 'the market' will sort out the problem.
Many months ago I wrote about the expanding housing crisis in the quake-savaged eastern suburbs of Christchurch and called for an immediate government response – never expecting that there would be indeed be a response.
I also called for Mayor Sideshow Bob to start advocating for the interests of the embattled folk of the Eastside. Again, I never expected Bob, frankly, to do his job.
And so, in the early months of 2012, the housing crisis has deepened and the Government refuses to intervene.
Meanwhile Sideshow Bob remains the politically neutered mayor, who 'sees no evil, thinks no evil and speaks no evil' as far as the Government is concerned. You would get a better and more meaningful response from a bowl of custard.
The solution to the housing crisis is best left to the market, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says.
This is nothing short of ideological stupidity, a complete failure to recognise that 'the market' has failed.
Christchurch is a city without houses to rent.
There are over 2000 people seeking accommodation from welfare agencies and another 1000 being paid short-term emergency accommodation benefits. Over 6000 people are living in temporary accommodation paid for by insurance companies.
And people are being forced to pay extortionate rents for plainly inadequate housing. One tenant, for example, recently 'agreed' to a $50 rent increase in order to keep a roof over the head of herself and her children. She is now paying $450 for a four bedroom home. She is worried the rent will go up again because of the demand.
Despite the dire situation Gerry Brownlee is more concerned about maintaining the 'appropriate' investment climate,
According to Brownlee (the owner of three homes that I know of) if the Government intervened it could 'artificially lower the appetite of private investors to provide a solution that could be lucrative for investors.'
So we all know where Brownlee's priorities lie then – and it isn't with the people doing it hard in the Eastside.
It is a obvious a massive government intervention is required yet all Brownlee and co have come up with is less than a hundred temporary accommodation units – which the mainstream media have dutifully recorded as some kind of real commitment to the people of Christchurch. In reality, there is a huge fire burning in the eastern suburbs and Gerry is trying to put it out with his little plastic water pistol.
Meanwhile the Government has had no problem finding $20 million to underwrite the building of a new temporary stadium for the Canterbury Crusaders. While he has had nothing to say about the housing crisis in the eastern suburbs, Sideshow Bob hasn't been slow to say how 'excited' he is about the new sports stadium.
According to Gerry Brownlee the ' Christchurch stadium is an important step towards the restoration of normality to have a venue that catered for first-class sporting matches and entertainment events.'
I'm sure this will comfort the many thousands of people in the Eastside living in inadequate housing and barely able to pay the obscene rents being demanded by landlords.