“…Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples has been criticised as “completely out of order” for suggesting homeless Christchurch people should squat in abandoned red-zone homes rather than sleep in their cars.
Dr Sharples said he was shocked when he heard of the hardships some residents still faced – and suggested those freezing in their cars during winter should temporarily squat in homes “considered not worthy of living in”.
“If they are living in a car and they are cold, they should just occupy one of those houses.
Now, I shouldn’t be advocating that people take illegal action like that, but there are still emergency situations … and they need emergency solutions.”
But his suggestion has put him offside with his Government colleague Gerry Brownlee, the Canterbury earthquake recovery minister.
“It is not appropriate for people to squat in red-zone houses – and it’s not appropriate for the minister to make comments like that,” Mr Brownlee said.
“His suggestion is completely out of order and was made without fully appreciating the circumstances that have led to red-zone offers.”
Dr Sharples visited Christchurch last month and heard the “chronic housing issues” Maori community workers were still battling -
- including a blind couple living in a garage – and a woman who had been living in her car for weeks.
He is the first Government minister to acknowledge a housing “crisis” in the city.
“There is no doubt in my mind there is a crisis.”..”
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