A protest has been organised by Occupy Christchurch to highlight the
issues of housing shortage and homelessness in the city. People are
invited to gather outside Earthquake Recovery minister Gerry
Brownlee’s Ilam road office at 2pm on Saturday (May 26).

“Brownlee has stated that there is no housing crisis. There is no
crisis for him as he owns several rental properties in the city, for
others displaced by the earthquake and effected by the recession this
is certainly a crisis” said Kelly Pope, one of the protests
organisers.

The group is calling for building social housing to be a priority in
Christchurch and a rent-freeze on both social and private housing, as
well as a democratic process for peoples housing concerns to be
raised.

“We also want there to be acknowledgement of the real levels of
homelessness in the city” said another person involved “When Occupy
Christchurch was still in Hagley Park we became a place where the
homeless could come for food and shelter. The council voted to evict
us, and now they need to fulfil their promise to not leave people
homeless. Rebuilding and constructing new sustainable housing is key
to meeting these needs.”

Since leaving Hagley Park Occupy Christchurch has continued to meet
weekly and organise events such as teach-ins, protests and documentary
film screenings.

“The present commitment to state housing is not enough” said Byron
Clark, an Occupy Christchurch activist. “We need housing for more than
just the high priority cases. When someone is on a benefit paying half
their income to a private landlord, welfare money is becoming a return
on someone’s investment property, and that’s not how the welfare
system should work. We need social housing for anyone receiving
welfare, and also the huge number of people working reduced hours for
low wages”

Organisers are expecting around one hundred people to attend and
invite anyone who is interested to come along on the day.

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