As we enter another period of covid19 lockdown I wonder how much of the latest Auckland outbreak is because of poverty?
People in South Auckland who have to go to work because of their huge family costs. People who do not own their own homes and who are paying enormous rents to financially scouring landlords. Landlords who are too often owning property for capital gains. Not genuine, decent landlords, of which there are plenty.
When somebody has three low paying jobs, and this income is needed for family survival, they are scared of losing any of them. They probably think that they can risk going to work. The virus will pass them by they will be telling themselves. Well, that’s not what’s happening.
It’s easy for us to sit back and cope with Level 2 and feel pious about it happening in Auckland. However, this City has big groupings of poverty. We choose to ignore this at our peril.
Jim Lunday had his dog nicked recently.
As he wandered around Linwood, Jim told me he was staggered at how this suburb has been allowed to deteriorate. Kainga Ora has constructed units at an impressive rate. Motels are full of families in transitional housing. Poor quality rentals abound in the suburb, which has more than its fair share of really neat old housing stock.
If I were starting owning my own house now, I would be looking to live in this area. However, right now that’s out of the question, as we have a brilliant house in upper Shirley.
There is an issue which nobody seems to mention. That is that the neo-liberal economic experiment in this country has left a significant number of people in an alienated state toward society. No jobs, or if they had a job, now it’s a low paid one. In the media highly paid economists have kept glibly announcing since the 1980’s that we were effectively at a state of full employment. However, the reality for families in low paid employment in a renting situation, the last few decades have seen them sink further and further into the morass.
The Government is responding by building as many state houses as is possible. This is essential but is only one part of the housing system. The combined roles of the community sector and the private sector hasn’t received enough attention from Government.
What worries me is that Kainga Ora is required to house people with all the same economic challenges together in one place. Many of these individuals and families are the casualties of the neo-lib economic experiment. Many are alienated. Many have little, if any, sense of community. A friend of mine said to a group of us once “in 20 years people will ask us why did we do this? We are creating future slums”.
Which brings me back to Linwood. A suburb which has so much potential. Where the housing stock is a restorable one. It has been allowed to sink into a neglected state because CCC hasn’t got a City Planner. We need active planning with all of our suburbs. Planning is about people. As human beings we thrive when we have a place to live that nurtures us. At the moment we have a housing market which is going nuts. Why is it going nuts? Because all of the economic tools of Government are out of date. Because our Council isn’t taking activist stances to social issues, like housing. Like how to make suburbs thrive.
How many times do we have to say that Government intervention in the market is essential? At the moment it is being driven by market greed. How many reading these notes are sitting on capital gaining real estate holdings, aside from your family home? How many of us are causing the next generation to not get into their first home?
In the past week I received an email from a valuer friend. In it he said:
“This market is ridiculous to the point of sickening. The money people are paying for houses is off the scale. I put $950,000 on a 113m2 bungalow in Rutland Street last week (650m2 title, double garage)- that’s nuts. Std 60’s bungalows in Halswell. 18 Larsens road sold the other day $640,000- and it isn’t really upgraded. Finding current sales is really hard work as you can’t use December ones now and the listings are thin on the ground. Where will it all end??”
In Auckland this week there was this following story about house sales:
Sold in March for $840K; sold again on Sunday for $1.47m
The three-bedroom Papakura home sold on Sunday for $1.47 million, less than a year after the vendor purchased it for just $840,000.
No significant improvements had been made to the property in the 11 months since its sale in March 2020, apart from the lodging and approval of plans to build seven dwellings on the 1012sqm site.
Ray White Manukau agent Karam Hundal, who brokered the most recent sale, said the council approval of the development plans were a big drawcard and saved the buyer about nine months of paperwork.
“It saves buyer a lot of time and it’s a good return for a vendor,” Hundal said.
The sale price was a massive improvement on the property’s 2017 of $650,000, reflecting the heat in the current market and the value of the property’s Mixed Housing Urban zoning under Auckland’s Unitary Plan.
Ray White Manukau director Tom Rawson said buyers in the market for development properties saw the value in listings that had resource consent already taken care of.
“When we sell a development property it’s all subject to consents but with resource consents done, it’s already guaranteed, just get a building consent and go ahead,” he said.
Note this is being again being driven by greed on the part of the vendor. It’s not about housing families and doing good for the community. It’s about somebody capitalising on this section. Who knows it might be a greedy individual, who possibly has not paid tax on the deal, and has made nearly 70% profit in a year.
Not one extra person has been housed as a result of this exercise. Just more petrol on a fire which makes those of us who already own homes feel well off because our houses will now be worth more. The whole thing is sickening.
I work with some amazing community housing groups in South Auckland. They struggle to assist their client base who are low paid and vulnerable. It’s not unusual that COVID-19 keep reappearing there. The people too often are living in crowded houses (sometimes up to 18 people in a three-bedroom house and garage) and they cannot afford to not go to work. This is another example of the neo-lib experiment ruining people’s lives. And the media highlights how much people are making from owning houses; but there is little, if any, attention paid to the casualties of this communal greed.
Look at this, very ordinary, house in South Auckland. It sold for $1m last week. Things are getting out of control and it’s all driven by greed. And it has to be stopped. It’s market intervention time
Just in case we are feeling smug and tut-tutting about how we aren’t nearly as bad down here. Like Jim Lunday looking for his dog, take a walk around parts of Linwood. Think about its potential and how right now we are heading into the pit of despair, just like Auckland. How we are walking past those who are paying a huge price for their vulnerability.
This needs us all to play our part. It’s time for us to raise our voices on behalf of the voiceless. It’s time for us to demand proper planning by CCC. For the CEO to appoint a City Planner. For us to engage with vulnerable communities and assist them. This is not sitting back feeling smug time.
It’s time to act.
By the way. Jim found his dog. Thanks for asking.