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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 18. 27th July 1972

What to Do?

What to Do?

To say that the accommodation problem in Wellington is critical is now a truism. Most of the 45% of Victoria students who live away from home know that from their own experience. If you do live at home, ask your out-of-town friends how many months they spent looking for adequate accommodation. The chances are that in desperation they settled for something less than adequate.

The accommodation problem in Wellington is essentially a low income group rather than a student problem. Students are part of the problem because they are a low income group. The long-term solution to the student problem therefore logically lies in the long-term solution of the community problem.

There are certainly come ways in which the student problem can be concentrated upon, but these are only partial solutions. For instance, halls of residence and student flatting complexes can be built. However, they are very expensive and finance is short (unless, of course, you live in a city that is sponsoring the next Commonwealth Games). And there are serious doubts that it is socially desirable to put students together in their own little boxes rather than scattering them throughout the community.

The Students' Association can itself become directly involved in housing. Already it is leasing a number of old Ministry of Works' properties and letting them to students. Direct Association investment is also a possibility. However, at more than $4000 a bed for flatting complexes, it is really only worthwhile for the Association to invest its limited resources if by doing so it can stimulate outside groups to do likewise. NZUSA is trying to establish a National Accommodation Trust to do this. If it gets going, it will be of particular value to Victoria since our accommodation problem is the most critical in the country. However, a distinct lack of enthusiasm from some of the other universities whose problems are not as bad may well mean the National Trust will crap out, and Victoria will have to go ahead and establish its own.

The Students Association has not the resources to solve our problems in isolation so it is important that we continue to support the Wellington Citizen's Committee on Accommodation. Initiated by Tim Dyce (Junior Lecturer, History Department) early last year, it brings together various individuals and groups concerned with the accommodation shortage. With the support of the City Corporation, it is doing a great deal of very sound work especially empirical research into the nature of the low-income group housing problem in inner city areas. As a result it is formulating a good many of the answers needed.

Some of these solutions include:
  • The redirection of state housing funds from outlying areas such as Porirua into inner city areas where people work.
  • More money for the housing of definable groups, e.g. pensioners and students.
  • A repair and renovation fund to extend the lives of old but sound houses, replacing over time those that are uneconomic to repair. This is a concept of gradual urban renewal.
  • The establishment of a Housing Trust to direct funds into important areas.

Student accommodation problems are only a part of the W.C.C.A.'s concern. However, the kind of work it is doing may well lead to solutions for the student accommodation problem within the context of solutions for the wider community problem.

John Blincoe S.R.C. Accommodation Officer.