Meth house victims being compensated, unfathomable response from Collins, Bridges

People who were unnecessarily evicted from state houses due to extreme testing for methamphetamine contamination will be apologised to and compensated.

Housing NZ to right meth testing wrong

A report by Housing NZ into its response to methamphetamine contamination shows the organisation accepts its approach was wrong and had far reaching consequences for hundreds of people, Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford said.

“Housing NZ acknowledges that around 800 tenants suffered by either losing their tenancies, losing their possessions, being suspended from the public housing waiting list, negative effects on their credit ratings or, in the worst cases, being made homeless.

“Housing NZ is committed to redressing the hardship these tenants faced. This will be done on a case by case basis and the organisation will look to reimburse costs tenants incurred, and make discretionary grants to cover expenses such as moving costs and furniture replacement.

“They will also receive a formal apology from Housing NZ.

“This is what government accountability looks like. Housing NZ are fronting up, acknowledging they were wrong and putting it right.

“The approach to methamphetamine from 2013 by the government of the day was a moral and fiscal failure. Housing NZ had been instructed by then ministers to operate like a private sector landlord. This led to the wellbeing of tenants being ignored.

“Even as evidence grew that the meth standard was too low, and ministers acknowledged it wasn’t ‘fit for purpose’, the former government continued to demonise its tenants. At any time they could have called for independent advice. Our Government is choosing to do the right thing.

“Under the helm of chief executive Andrew McKenzie, Housing NZ is a very different organisation. It has a new focus on sustaining tenancies, being a compassionate landlord and treating drug addiction as a health issue. This whole sorry saga would not occur under the Housing NZ of today.

“The meth debacle was a systemic failure of government that hurt a lot of people. Our Government is committed to putting this right,” Phil Twyford said.

It was a debacle, and good to see genuine efforts to compensate in part at least.

It is difficult to fathom the National response. Judith Collins:

In Parliament today:

2. Hon JUDITH COLLINS (National—Papakura) to the Minister of Housing and Urban Development: Is it acceptable for Housing New Zealand tenants to smoke methamphetamine in Housing New Zealand houses?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Housing and Urban Development): Methamphetamine is, of course, illegal and is doing immense damage to communities across New Zealand. Our Government does not condone the smoking of methamphetamine anywhere; however, the member needs to understand the counterfactual: it is not acceptable for the Government—for any Government—to throw tenants and their children on to the street and make them homeless. We recognise that making people homeless does not solve a tenant’s problems or help people overcome addiction; it just moves the problem to somewhere else and makes it worse for the person involved, their family, their children, the community, and the taxpayer.

Hon Judith Collins: Where meth testing showed residues exceeding previous standards, can this meth have gotten into Housing New Zealand houses any way other than smoking or baking meth?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: No, but there was no consistent baseline testing done by Housing New Zealand over those years. There is no way of knowing whether the hundreds of people who were made homeless under this policy had any personal responsibility for the contamination of those houses. Frankly, I’m shocked that the member, who used to be a lawyer, would think that that is OK. Is this the modern, compassionate face of the National Party?

Hon Judith Collins: When he said that “800 tenants suffered by … losing their tenancies,” is he saying that these 800 tenants were all wrongfully evicted from Housing New Zealand houses?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: It depends what you mean by “wrongfully evicted”. Clearly, some of the 800 people—and I believe many of those people—had their tenancies terminated and were evicted without natural justice, without proper evidence of the case, on the basis of a bogus scientific standard. All of those people—all of the people who were evicted, bar some for whom the standard of contamination was more than the 15 micrograms per 100 centimetres that Sir Peter Gluckman recommended as a sensible standard—were convicted on the basis of a scientific standard that the previous Government allowed to persist for years on the basis of no scientific evidence that exposure to third-hand contamination posed any kind of health risk to anybody

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: There are many contradictory reports swirling around on this issue, but one that I’ve seen that makes a lot of sense is where, and I quote, “people were unfairly removed. If that’s the case, they should be compensated, and Housing New Zealand management should answer for it.” That’s exactly what today’s report does, and that quote is from Judith Collins.

Hon Judith Collins: Will people who smoked meth in Housing New Zealand houses now be given $2,000 to $3,000 compensation?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: The point of the compensation is to compensate people who wrongly had their tenancies terminated and their possessions destroyed and who, in some cases, were made homeless. Those are the people who will receive a payment under the assistance programme.

Hon Judith Collins: Will people who sold meth in Housing New Zealand houses now be given $2,000 to $3,000 compensation?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: No.

I have no idea who Collins is trying to appeal to by highlighting a problem that happened under the National-led government.

Simon Bridges joined in as he barked at a number of passing cars today.

Alleging “compensation for meth crooks” is a fairly crooked attack.

Housing NZ CEO on meth testing

The CEO of Housing NZ Andrew McKenzie is being interviewed on RNZ about meth testing of houses. It has taken a while for him to front up.

Earlier:

See also:

Housing NZ should do weekly ‘educational’ visits

A comment from Lanthanide at The Standard:

If it takes education for tenants to be ventilating their houses so they’re not cold and damp, then HNZ should be providing that education when the tenant first takes up residency in the house.

If it takes weekly visits from a HNZ agent to go to the house and check that it isn’t damp, and remind the tenants on how to keep the house damp-free, and also do whatever is required to achieve that goal (ie, install carpet, fix up / install extraction fans / range-hoods / vented dryers), then that is what HNZ should have done.

Carpets and curtains used to be the tenants’ responsibility last century. Now some people want everything provided.

Did HNZ do those things? Almost certainly they did not do the latter things, and I doubt that they did the former.

Could HNZ do those things? Yes. They would of course need more funding from the government.

It might solve unemployment.

If HNZ had done all of those things, would the house have been damp and contributed to the death of the child? The house may still have had a likelihood of being damp, but much lowered if all practicable steps were being taken (and the steps I have listed *are* practicable, but of course require more money to achieve).

Therefore, HNZ is responsible, for having *not* taken these practicable steps. The government is responsible for under-funding HNZ and also not requiring such practicable steps be taken.

That’s bollocks. As Psycho Milt points out:

Yes, Housing NZ could hire an army of inspectors to visit its 30,000 Auckland properties weekly to ensure its tenants aren’t damaging the property through ignorance, negligence or malicious intent, if the government were that profligate with taxpayers’ money.

But if we’re going down the money-no-object path, it could build brand new houses for all its tenants with the latest in passive systems for heating, ventilation and energy conservation, with more funding from the government.

No matter what the level of funding, the government can’t be and shouldn’t be entirely and completely responsible for adult citizens unless they’re mentally incapacitated.

RedLogix disagrees:

what is going on here in State Housing (and other substandard rentals) is pretty obvious, just on a bigger scale. Government does have a public health responsibility in this matter – a broad corporate (in the widest sense of the word) responsibility they are openly refusing to acknowledge.

That’s also bollocks, responsibilities have been openly acknowledged, just not total responsibility for everything regarding every state tenant’s lives.

Next thing they will be suggesting HNZ employs people to sleep in the middle of tenant’s beds to ensure they don’t breed more progeny than they can adequately care for.