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To: The Minister for Housing, Hon Megan Woods.
Extend the Income-Related Rent Subsidy to all Wellington City Council Tenants.
We ask you to extend the Income-Related Rent Subsidy (that is automatically applied to all Housing New Zealand tenants) to all Wellington City Council tenants.
Show that you are serious about making housing affordability a priority for those who are most in need, and fulfill the promise that Labour made to these tenants while you were in opposition.
Why is this important?
Dear Hon Megan Woods,
Wellington City Council is landlord to in excess of 2500 social housing units within Wellington. Rental rates are based on 70% of market rent , and rents are reviewed and increased annually by approximately 3-5%.
This year, however, City Housing tenants have been hit hard with one of the largest rent increases in recent years — the maximum amount allowable under the current policy. Contrary to public belief, Wellington City Council is an expensive landlord and its social housing rentals are no longer an affordable option for those who need it most.
An external operational review of the council's social housing unit, recently released to media under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act, reveals that "two-thirds of tenants are paying well over 35 per cent of their income on rent."
Now, more than ever, Wellington City Housing tenants need "a fairer and more equitable rental scheme." It is a matter of urgency that council tenants can access the same Income-Related Rent Subsidy that is automatically applied to all Housing New Zealand tenants.
Despite Wellington City Council voting to pursue the Government to help ease the burden on its low-income tenants by extending the rent subsidy, the Government has responded by saying it will not extend the subsidy to tenants "during this term."
This government claims to care about and take a compassionate stance towards New Zealand's most financially and materially disadvantaged people. It also claims to be making affordable housing for those who are most in need a priority.
By failing to extend the Income-Related Rent Subsidy to all social housing tenants, while rent rates continue to rise annually, the Government is putting low-income tenants at considerable risk of being excluded from accessing their most basic human right to a roof over their head.
Wellington City Council tenants are are an ethnically and socially diverse group of residents . Many are elderly, refugees and migrants, live with disabilities and/or suffer from long term chronic health problems. Some have overcome homelessness, domestic violence, and have first hand experience of discrimination and exclusion.
The Wellington City Council's Social Housing Service Policy (last updated in 2010) states: -
Over 80% of the Council's tenants are Work and Income New Zealand beneficiaries.
"The largest priority group of city housing customers — a group that comprises 38% status — are categorized as “multiple disadvantaged”.
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