by Don Franks
Everything seemed right with the world yesterday.
Sun shining and in Wellington level 2 we can emerge from our bubble and visit friends. While enjoying that freedom, I noticed two doors down from where we were, quite a lot of activity. An estate agent was carefully marshalling groups of people to scan in and view rental accomodation.
The space on offer was a newly renovated sleep out. On the plus side the place had a pleasant view and was close to a bus stop. On the downside, it was minuscule. Any tenant with more than a handful of possessions would have to be paying somewhere else for storage. For this rabbit hutch the landlord was demanding $450 per week.
The people viewing were all dutifully masked up so it wasn’t possible to see their expressions. It seems fairly certain that one of them will agree to the price, because savage usury is the climate we exist in now. I recognised a couple of the people looking over the flat, both of them low paid essential workers. Those essential workers that politicians occasionally ’shout out to’, supposedly to show that they respect such folks. But there’s no way these low paid toilers could afford to rent this place, so where will they finish up?
When it comes to housing action, politicians’ real energy is put into their own personal interests. Between them, 116 New Zealand members of parliament own, or have financial interest in 302 properties. More than three quarters of MPs enjoy a portfolio of two to 12 properties.
A civilised society would organise rent and income control so that no-one was left behind in poverty and squalor.For now, thousands of essential workers and their children struggle on, to the tune of chummy slogans about a ’team of five million’.
Our local free paper published an interview with a bartender in which she wrote about trying to find a rental (Rockland, Maine, U.S.A.). People from out-of-state are buying houses in Maine in case there’s another pandemic, people are buying properties to rent them out as AirBnB, one landlord was holding onto a property waiting for someone to pay his price. You are so right that we need rent control and bans on buying houses to rent them out to partygoers. A Republican representative wanted higher property taxes for people who don’t spend at least 180 days in their houses, but I guess the Democrats squashed that.
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