I haven’t read the 1949 book “State Housing in New Zealand” but a friend sent me some notes about it a few days ago and I’m picking it up at the local library.
It should be essential reading for all Labor MPs – and Housing Minister Megan Woods in particular.
Here are the notes I received with the recommendation to read:
This is a report, written by Cedric Firth of the Department of Public Works, in response to numerous requests they have received (mainly internationally) to describe the State House program in New Zealand.
A few things to remember (from memory) – they start by building less than 100 houses in a year – then keep going!
They had a shortage of materials, nationally and globally – hence why houses were built with a wide range of materials. It also means that various industries have been strengthened by the program.
They organized a training program – one for young people and one for returning soldiers.
They thought about community/civic design – eg building Wadestown stores, downtown Naenae. They worked with the board of education and local churches and allocated land to them.
Some were apartments and others were individual houses.
“They started building 100 houses a year” but that rose to 3,500 a year from the late 1930s. If we were building at the same rate today, we would be building over 10,000 public residences a year. However, the Labor government is only funding an additional 1,600 places a year for a waiting list of nearly 25,000 families in desperate housing need.
Incredibly disconnected. Broad-based incompetence.
The book’s closing words speak to the importance of not only building homes, but also building communities around “civic centers.”
We feel that this Civic Center will provide the means for a reasonable community life, that is to say a Center which will function and which will be the expression of the civic order. As such, it forms an important part of the Housing Division’s program to provide a good environment in which the citizen can enjoy a full and satisfying life. The entire program is a contribution to raising our standard of living. We have the means to do it. The means must be used for valid purposes.
Can the Labor government recover its past values? Can he be forced to give up his obsession with flattering middle-class owners? We will know for sure when we see the budget.
In the meantime sign and share the petition on www.alternativeaotearoa.nz