The content of a letter to the Editor published in the Waikato Times:
The recent decision by the Hamilton City Council to avail themselves of continuing to provide housing for our most vulnerable pensioners by opting to sell their 344 pensioner housing units is a terrifying example of privatisation wreaking havoc on our community.
This is the very privatisation that overwhelmingly New Zealanders opposed last year. This is asset sales, at a local level to the value of $26 million. This is no small change. Once gone, these assets will never be returned to a publicly owned and accountable body, our City Council.
For $26 million, the current value of the stock, after purchasing land adequately zoned for the density required, only 130 comparable units would be able to be constructed today. Replacing the entire stock of 344 on new sites is estimated to cost around $68 million. This $42 million shortfall is the true loss to our Hamilton community by the privatisation of these assets. This is a fire sale. This highlights how completely irreplaceable the entire stock of housing is for our community.
Currently the stock of pensioner housing is cost-neutral to council. Forecasted shortfalls in the ongoing maintenance of these properties seems to ignore the fact that $3.6 million was set aside from the sale of some of the pensioner units in 2012, a move which was to guarantee the financial feasibility of continuing to provide, the remaining supply of pensioner housing for our community members.
We currently have a severe shortage of affordable accommodation in Hamilton and our social service organisations lack the capacity or capital required to house those who require our assistance. There is nowhere for these residents to go.
Even our local MP David Bennett has reiterated the point that this isn’t being driven by changes from central Government. It is however a convenient means to reduce Council debt, but our pensioners with the least resources shouldn’t be the ones left to pay for that.
Karen Morrison-Hume, Missioner, Anglican Action