Candidate Andy Foster answers Renters United’s questions
VOTE HOUSING: LOCAL BODY 2022
Renters United asked every Mayoral candidate 17 questions about the issues that most concern renters in their ward. Here are Andy Foster’s responses in full.
Rapid fire questions
Are you a renter? No
Do you own any properties? Yes
Do you support the Renters United Healthy Homes Commitment? No answer provided
Do you commit to funding tenant advocacy? Yes
Do you support councils retaining ownership an expanding supply of council housing? Yes
Will you lobby for IRRS to be extended to councils? Yes
Do you commit to densifying inner city suburbs? Yes
Will you commit to using your platform to abolish the ratepayers roll? No
What actions would you take to improve stability and security for private renters?
1 – Fix our broken Council Social Housing model. I have got agreement from Government and Council to establish a Community Housing Provider (CHP) from 1 July 2023, the governance of which will include Council, mana whenua and external expertise. The ownership of the assets stays with Council. The CHP will allow access to income related rents for new tenants (current Government policy makes this not possible under direct Council management), will start to fix the Social Housing Unit’s growing deficit (currently $30,000 a day forecast to grow to $130,000 a day in 10 years under the current model) thereby securing the future of the housing and our tenants, and critically this will make building new social housing financially viable – so we can, and I will, drive developing more new social housing.
2 – Support our existing tenants through the transition to the CHP.
3 – Continue to advocate for IRRS for all.
4 – Continue to consider opportunities where feasible for Council to enter into long term leases so that we can provide long term security for tenants.
How will you ensure all council tenants have security of tenure?
The values set out in the Trust Deed include the values of our new Takai Here partnership with Ngati Toa and Taranaki Whanui :
a. Manaakitanga, inclusivity and collaboration with mana whenua
b. Recognition and respect for sacred kinship networks that extend to our natural
c. Balance during processes, engagements and interactions
d. Honesty and transparency
e. Solutions that bring success through aroha and kotahitanga
f. Humility and service to promote care and safety to others
I will ensure that the CHP maintains those values.
What steps will you take to end homelessness in Wellington?
Continue working with and financially supporting DCM, City Mission, Soup Kitchen, Ngati Kahungungu and other agencies working with homeless people. I’ve been out with DCM on a number of occasions talking to street people, all of whom are well known by and supported by DCM. Continue working with these agencies and MSD through the Poneke Promise to find permanent homes (Housing First approach) for people in emergency housing. I pushed for MSD to be involved in the Poneke Promise, and now they are, and stepping up with wrap around support for people in emergency housing, getting families and children into more appropriate accommodation where the children are more able to go to school. MSD are also doing a great job getting people into sustained employment.
If elected, would you take steps to tackle persistent bad landlords who do not meet their obligations to renters in your area? If so, what?
1. Advocacy to Government to undertake its responsibilities where necessary.
2. The current work of the Government appointed Future for Local Government Panel may have an impact in expanding the roles and powers of Councils.
In that light I would like to discuss with Renters United the powers that exist under the Healthy Homes Act 1956 (your first question) which appear to me to be quite limited in terms of what can be effectively enforced and rely on court conviction, which dis-incentivises enforcement. It looks to me that there could be merit in working together to advocate for a more effective legislative framework if Councils are going to be meaningfully involved in enforcement. (ie we need effective and efficient tools)
That is the reason I have not answered the question with a yes / no answer.
What do you think Council should do to address power imbalance between landlords and tenants? If nothing, why?
That largely depends on the powers we have from Government. I think this should start with a clear picture of the state of the problem, and then collective work involving LGNZ (so it is a national issue), Renters United, and Government, to determine what powers there should be and who should exercise them.
Would you advocate for additional powers or resources from Central Government to address the housing crisis (such as legislating for Rent Control), if so what and how?
No – I think Councils having ability to control rents, and I note Governments haven’t done that either, would be likely to have forseeable side effects in removing rental housing from the market and dissuading people from building new stock which is fundamentally what we need. That would be particularly true in the current environment where rental levels have started to fall, house prices are certainly falling, and the cost of construction is soaring.
What do you think are the main reasons rents in Wellington are increasing? How would you ensure rents in Wellington are affordable?
The balance of supply and demand. Rents are now falling but from a very high level, so falling somewhat further would be a good thing. The biggest lever I think Council can pull is to enable more housing to be built (as our District Plan does – providing more than twice the capacity we expect to need over the next thirty years) and to drive building which I will push to ensure happens – I advocated to Ministers that we need more housing along the planned (now agreed) Mass Transit Route from the Railway Station to Island Bay and that we should have some sort of Urban Development Agency to drive that, As a result we are working on a partnership with Kainga Ora under the Urban Development Act 2020, with the aim of setting a Special Development Partnership up mid next year to drive housing development. A UDA should have happened last term of Council but the then leadership (Mayor Lester- DM Eagle) did not support it.
Safe and healthy homes
What actions (in contrast to or in conjunction with our Healthy Homes Commitment) would you take to improve the quality of private rental housing in your ward and in your city?
I support the Healthy Homes Standards. Under our CHP we will upgrade the rest of Council housing stock.
Anything else you want to share?
Just to answer the Ratepayer Roll question above. To me those who pay rates should be entitled to vote for the people that make decisions on those rates. (the relationship between taxes and representation). What you would know is that does not mean anyone can exercise more than one vote, and in fact the number of ratepayer roll voters is very small – but it is an important principle.
Question 2 about property ownership above – to be clear the only property which I am an owner (shared!) is our home!
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In: Elections 2022, Wellington. .
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