The Royal New Zealand Herald is but a shadow of its former self. Once the doyen of newspapers (although the ODT would disagree) it is now a second rate rag with a declining circulation populated by second rate journos hell bent on interviewing their typewriters without the benefit of a modicum of research.
And so it was that this week the 'paper' featured two shock horror stories about families reduced to living in motels payed for by the taxpayer because they could find alternative accommodation.
What the Herald didn't tell you was that both families had been evicted from their Housing New Zealand rental properties by order of the Tenancy Tribunal for the non payment of rent.
Housing New Zealand is the biggest provider of social housing in the country with capped rentals far below those seen in the private sector. I hold very strongly to the view that access to 'State' housing is a privilege not to be abused. My first home was a State house. My parents were conscious of that privilege and looked after the home meticulously until they eventually purchased the property made possible by a National government initiative.
A simple change of policy would ensure that no tenant would ever be evicted for non payment of rent. All that HNZ needs to do is to change the tenancy agreement to provide for the automatic assignment of rent from the tenant's salary/wages/benefit as a condition of the agreement. Simple, easy, straightforward, fair and reasonable although I have no doubt the Sue Bradford's of this world would be quick to condemn it as 'tenant bashing'.
A much harder and philosophical question is whether the State has an obligation to house people who have, for whatever reason, forfeited their right to State housing. I don't think there's an easy answer to the question. Certainly each case has to be dealt with on its merits but I think it comes a time when enough is enough. Interested in your feedback.