It’s time to freeze rents and mortgages

And increase income support for everyone.

Three ways you can take action by ActionStation’s Laura O’Connnell Rapira.

Screenshot of Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson at a Covid-19 stand up

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that we will be moving to Covid-19 alert level four by Thursday this week.

This means that for at least a month the entire country will be physically distancing.

For those of us with children at school, this means children at home. For others, there are parents and whānau to arrange care and support for. For almost everyone, it means big changes to our daily lives.

There is grief that comes with this. Over the past few days, I have shed tears and taken deep breaths more than once. It’s normal to be feeling stressed and uncertain right now. These are uncertain times.

What I am certain of though is the power and solidarity of the ActionStation community. I am certain we will step up to this moment to create lasting change.

And I am certain we will continue to do what we do best: Shelter and care for one another, connect and take action to support policy that ensures everyone’s health, financial freedom and wellbeing.

Last week, we sent out a survey and over 5,000 ActionStation members told us they want us to focus on:

  • Building tools that help you help your communities.
  • Campaigning so that everyone has enough income to survive and thrive in these trying times.
  • Advocating for rent and mortgage freezes so that everyone can keep a roof over their head.
  • Ensuring that those who are most susceptible to novel coronavirus get additional support.

And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

SIGN HERE ✍️: If you support the Government implementing an emergency basic income for everyone.

SEND AN EMAIL HERE ✉️: If you support the Government urgently and permanently increasing core benefits.

SIGN HERE ✍️: If you support the Government implementing an emergency housing plan to ensure everyone has a warm, dry and secure home at this time.

So far Jacinda Ardern and Finance Minister Grant Robertson have made a range of announcements to help people financially: There’s a wage subsidy scheme, an increase to core benefits of $25 per week, a freeze on rent increases and an end to no-cause evictions.2

These announcements are great and, in all honesty, the government are doing an excellent job of leading us through these trying times. But with those measures alone it’s all but guaranteed that the most vulnerable people in our society will get left behind.

A wage subsidy only helps those who were already receiving a salary, wages or regular income. A freeze on increases in rent doesn’t guarantee people can keep a roof over their head if they can’t afford to pay rent now. It doesn’t help our homeless whānau into homes. An end to no-cause evictions still means that landlords can kick people out if they create a good enough excuse to do so, and an extra $25 a week is just not enough to do anything.

Will you urgently sign on to keep a roof over every head during this crisis?

Will you send Finance Minister Grant Robertson, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern or Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni an email asking for better support for people on benefits?

Will you support everyone getting a basic income?

There’s no denying it, this moment is scary. I know many of you might have family members you’re worried about, for health, financial and emotional reasons. But this is also a moment for action. The reason so many of us have been fighting all these years is that we knew the system was broken. This is a chance to rewrite the rules, for good.

The choices our government makes now to help us weather the outbreak of this virus can set a better course for the future of our communities, our country and world.

Now is the time for us to unite across our differences and make policy choices that help everyday people, not just corporations and the wealthiest 10%. As individuals, we can wash our hands, stay at home and check in on our friends, whānau and neighbours. As a united force, we can ensure that people in government make decisions that will protect everyone’s health and wellbeing, no exceptions.

Let’s do what we’ve always done and unite for bold and enduring change — for love, for compassion and for each other.

With hope and determination,

Laura, Kassie, Eliot, Madeleine and Ruby on behalf of the ActionStation team.

P.S. In our survey, there was huge support for a campaign to permanently increase minimum sick leave requirements. What this crisis has shown is there are serious flaws in our current sick leave laws. We’ve discussed it as a team and we’ve also spoken with some friends at the unions and we’ve decided to hold off on pursuing this for now so we can focus on making sure everyone has enough income, benefits are increased and everyone has a warm dry home. If the unions launch a campaign, we will share it with you.

P.P.S. People also told us in the survey that they want a community action toolkit to help you help people in your community. Along with a fantastic group of volunteers, we have been rapidly pulling this together. Given the move to alert level four though, we are making sure the toolkit is fit for purpose for this moment. We hope to launch it later this week.

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ActionStation

ActionStation

Community campaigning organisation bringing people together to act in powerful and coordinated ways to create a fair and flourishing Aotearoa for all.