According to the Ministry of Housing, Innovation and Employment, over 7000 people in Christchurch could be homeless. But, according to Gerry Brownlee, there  is 'absolutely no evidence of a  housing crisis in Christchurch'.

The latest issue of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority's (CERA) propaganda broadsheet, Greater Christchurch Recovery Update appeared in my postbox a few days ago. It is thoroughly absorbing and I happily used it  in the little room when I ran out of toilet paper.

Although it describes itself as concerned with 'Greater Christchurch' this  glossy propaganda exercise is largely all about the Minister for Earthquake Recovery   Gerry Brownlee telling us what a great job he and his government are doing in the central city.

In the latest issue Brownlee is assisted in the cause of making his government  look good by CERA, Warwick Issacs  (Director the Christchurch Central Development Unit) and Peter Townsend,  the chief bigwig at the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce.

There have never been any  independent contributors to this publication because they would not understand , in the words of Townsend, that 'we all have to work together.'  'Working together' means seeing things the corporate way.

'Working together' also  means deleting from the narrative any mention of the plight of the eastern suburbs. When Townsend talks of 'smelling the money' pouring  into the central city , he chooses not to talk about the great many people who are struggling to survive week by week.

How bad is the situation?

Last month an arm of government itself, the Ministry  of Housing, Innovation and Employment,  told the Christchurch City Council that over   7000 people in Christchurch could be   'homeless'. It's a  fair bet that most of them will be found in the eastern suburbs.

That figure was dropped on the city council's  community, recreation and cultural committee by ministry researcher Dan Martin.

Martin said that the ministry defined   homelessness as people who had 'insecure' housing including people who lived on the streets and in overcrowded conditions.

He estimated that anywhere between 5500 and 7500 people were  homeless.

Martin warned  that the situation would not improve (translated: it will get worse) until 2015 because of people arriving in the city looking for work in the construction industry.

When the chair of the committee, Yani Johnson, demanded to know what was going to be done about this crisis, Martin's media minder intervened.

She claimed that CERA and the ministry 'were working together on  a  response'.

And if you believe that you will believe just about anything because the Key government refuses to even acknowledge that there is a housing crisis in Christchurch.

Brownlee only just recently claimed that there 'there is absolutely  no evidence of a housing crisis in Christchurch'.  He has also denied that rents have skyrocketed in Christchurch despite the fact they have risen by some  36 percent since 2010 - compared to 11 percent nationally.

This is the same Gerry Brownlee who pontificates in the Greater Christchurch Recovery Update that we are all on a journey to create 'the best small city in the world, a thoughtfully laid out city with large green open spaces, an efficient transport centre an state-of the-art sporting and cultural facilities'.

This will be the corporate-approved 'best small city' and the journey to that city will be at the expense  of the  eastern suburbs whose urgent concerns and needs continue to be ignored by government.

Tenant Protection Association Manger Helen Gatoyni is right when she said recently that the Government should be addressing the housing crisis instead of spending millions of dollars on a sport stadium.  And, I might add, a private and profit-driven international cricket venue on the publicly owned Hagley Park.


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