I commented recently on what I saw as a growing resistance to supporting new housing being in suburbs Housing challenges in suburbs: – The Tuesday Club at Smash Palace. I worry that this is going to be the latest “click bait” campaign for the Press. It’s just lazy journalism getting a group of people into a photo and for them to sound off about how dreadful it is that they might have prisoners living next to them. Well, it might be painful to accept the fact, that if somebody really is a prisoner, they aren’t free to live next to them. They will be locked up.
There was another flare up this week, this time in Richmond where Otautahi Community Housing Trust intends replacing awful old units.
The issue is, we don’t have enough homes for people to live in. The state through Kainga Ora and the Community Housing sector are desperately trying to meet the demand, which just keeps increasing.
I wouldn’t be unkind enough to point out that if we had kept manufacturing going in NZ and instead opted for the cheapest supply of everything, many of the people who are now residing in struggle street would have work and could afford their own home. Just like their parents.
Next week we are going to have two superb leaders in the Community Housing sector talk to us about Community Housing and their dreams and expectations. It’s time we debated this issue sensibly as a community. Not as click bait.
This week Duncan Webb sent out this email last week about housing disputes within his electorate. It is precisely the sort of leadership I admire. It is strong, passionate and thoughtful. He’s more polite than I would have been. Here’s what his email to his electorate said:
“If Duncan Webb doesn’t call me back, I will know he supports this idea to put a halfway house full of Māoris in our lovely community.”
This was one of many messages I have received about the proposal to put a residential rehabilitation facility in Bristol Street, Merivale. It sadly demonstrates how quick we can be to leap to conclusions based on prejudice without pausing to consider either the facts or the impact that such an attitude might have on others.
Some communities are peppered with social housing, halfway houses and similar facilities. Other, leafier suburbs tend to have fewer. But families live in all those communities.
We know that as a society we need to provide care, housing and support for those who need it. We also know that we need to provide treatment and rehabilitation to people who have addiction or who have fallen foul of the law. These are places like Odyssey House, which provides drug and alcohol rehabilitation to offenders (many of whom are on home detention and monitored) in Burnside. Four schools close to Odyssey House educate around 4000 children daily without incident.
The Salisbury Foundation in St Albans provides residential accommodation for sex offenders and the Salvation Army provides a bail house for accused awaiting trial in Linwood. Safety is paramount and in the case of Bristol St, Corrections will need to prove via the resource consent process that it will be safe, just as they do in any other community. Residents will be given the opportunity to have their say via that process in early 2021.
Having an inclusive society doesn’t mean only people who look like us, or who have never made a mistake or who can afford to own a home, can live nearby.
I’ll be meeting with residents to talk over concerns and I’m happy to provide information both ways, from the community to Corrections and back again, or advise on the resource consents process and how to make a submission.
I wholeheartedly support the community in insisting on safety, but I wholeheartedly reject any approach that says helping people get back on track is fine, just not in my community.