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To: New Zealand Government

Covid-19: Emergency housing plan

Covid-19: Emergency housing plan

Coronavirus is a reminder that we are all part of one community. It's clear that in order to keep ourselves safe, we need to look after our neighbours too. At this time of economic uncertainty we ask for the Government to take decisive action to ensure stable housing for everyone throughout Aotearoa.

We ask for:

✪ An immediate amnesty from paying rent or mortgages, and a ban on all evictions throughout the covid-19 pandemic (to be extended for a period afterwards to help people recover financially and emotionally).

✪ Long term rent caps to enable people to recover financially, emotionally from
covid-19

✪ The government to buy unoccupied houses (ghost homes) and buildings on the private market for public housing for homeless people.

✪ Remove all obligations to pay for the costs of temporary emergency housing, and reinstate this as a non-recoverable grant.

Why is this important?

5 April 2020: We have delivered this petition in an online event to MP Marama Davidson: https://bit.ly/3aOtAla

For the update on housing since this petition began:
https://medium.com/@actionstation/the-level-3-lowdown-on-housing-and-covid-19-72207cab54aa

You can still sign to keep in touch with the campaign or add your visual support by sharing a photo at https://actionstation.org.nz/campaigns/emergencyhousingplan

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No matter who we are, or where we come from - all of us need a safe place to call home.

Yet for decades politicians have allowed the housing market to be driven by the demands of property speculators which has led to a housing crisis. And that was before the coronavirus hit.

Because of the covid-19 situation and the inevitable economic downturn, many New Zealanders will lose their jobs, have their hours reduced, or be forced to self-isolate with little or no income. This will have a particular impact on those who are homeless, live in insecure or overcrowded housing, or have high rent and mortgage payments. The government must intervene now to ensure everyone has a home through this challenging time.

The latest government announcement of a rent freeze and no-cause evictions give some relief but these measures do not go far enough. Government ministers are meeting in the next couple of days to make further decisions and we have the chance now to push for the best possible outcome for people renting, in insecure housing or who are homeless.

The choices our Government makes now to help us weather the outbreak of this virus has the power to shape our communities and social systems for the better for decades to come. We can choose to look after everyone.

To respond to the current emergency we ask for:

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AN IMMEDIATE RENT AND MORTGAGE AMNESTY from paying rent or mortgages and a ban on all evictions throughout the covid-19 pandemic (to be extended for a period afterwards to help people recover financially and emotionally).

Already, thousands of New Zealanders are living in unaffordable and insecure rentals, with the pressure always growing. An unexpected loss of income due to businesses closing down, job losses or the need to self isolate will make paying rent impossible and push people into homelessness.

The government should provide renters and owner-occupiers with an amnesty from paying rent and mortgages, and to ban all evictions. Mortgage payments should be deferred interest-free. Rent payments should be waived instead of deferred.

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LONG TERM RENT CAPS to enable people to recover financially, emotionally from covid-19.

1 in 4 households already spend 40% or more of their household income on rent and housing costs, and that proportion is greater for students and young people.[1] Renters are much more vulnerable to income loss and rent increases.

Rent caps are about capping the amount of rent landlords can charge so that tenants are able to meet their housing costs. These will protect renters in this time of crisis but also longer-term in addressing the continual housing crisis we are facing.

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THE GOVERNMENT TO BUY UNOCCUPIED HOUSES (ghost homes) and buildings on the private market for public housing for homeless people.

Homeless people and whānau, including those living in overcrowded housing, need to have a secure and safe place to live especially when needing to self-isolate and protect themselves and others from the spread of COVID-19. There will be many more people who find themselves unable to afford private rentals.

In the immediate term, the government should purchase empty ghost homes and buildings, making these permanent state homes. By bringing these unused homes into public ownership we will be able to provide safe and healthy state homes for homeless people and whānau.[2,3,4]

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REMOVE ALL OBLIGATIONS TO PAY FOR THE COSTS OF TEMPORARY EMERGENCY HOUSING and reinstate this as a non-recoverable grant. People should not have to re-apply for emergency housing.

People should not have to pay rent for emergency housing with no rental contract. The government recently made those living in emergency accommodation pay for a portion of the costs at a quarter of their income.

We ask the government to go back to making emergency housing a non-recoverable grant so people are not made to go into debt.

We also call on the government to remove any obligations to re-apply for emergency accommodation and prove to Work & Income that you have been looking for alternative accommodation. Having to do house visits for rentals may not even be possible during a Level 4 pandemic, and will cause extreme stress for people looking for housing.

By standing united can we ensure collective wellbeing through this outbreak and rewrite the rules to ensure better health and homes for us all and the generations to come.

Sign now and together we will send a strong message to the government that the time is now to guarantee safe, warm affordable homes.

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Notes

One in four households already spend 40% or more of their household income on rent and housing costs
[1] Household income and housing-cost statistics: Year ended June 2019, Stats NZ : https://bit.ly/2y2rLCP

There are over 40,000 homeless people in New Zealand and in 2018 there were 191,646 unoccupied dwellings, with nearly 40,000 in Auckland.
[2] Severe housing deprivation in Aotearoa New Zealand, Kate Amore, University of Otago : https://bit.ly/3dlQB0t
[3] 'Worrying' rise in empty homes in Auckland highlighted in Census 2018, Sep 2019 : https://bit.ly/3afAhg6

There are nearly 15,000 people and whānau on the waitlist for public housing but there are many more in need of safe and secure public rental housing but do not currently fit the criteria.
[4] Housing crisis: Wait-list for public housing nears 15,000 households, NZ Herald, 28 Feb 2020 : https://bit.ly/2Ux9OE3


Reasons for signing

  • I am a renter. With my partner out of work we have no way to cover all our bills and rent so food will be priority to us. I know they cant kick us out during this period but there’s nothing to say once the level 4 is lifted that they wont and that they will expect full repayment of any missed rent. Its very scary times!!
  • Everyone wellbeing is the measure of our wellbeing as a country.
  • I have watch many people panic and struggle with housing lately. Including one young woman who was nearly homeless for the isolation.

Updates

2020-04-01 04:17:47 +1300

10,000 signatures reached

2020-03-25 22:29:40 +1300

5,000 signatures reached

2020-03-24 07:41:18 +1300

1,000 signatures reached

2020-03-23 22:18:03 +1300

500 signatures reached

2020-03-23 19:57:37 +1300

100 signatures reached

2020-03-23 19:16:29 +1300

50 signatures reached

2020-03-23 18:48:32 +1300

25 signatures reached

2020-03-23 18:38:31 +1300

10 signatures reached