On Saturday 26th May, protesters gathered outside earthquake recovery minister Gerry Brownlee’s Ilam electorate office to draw attention to the housing crisis faced by many Canterbury residents. Occupy Christchurch activists involved in organising the action decided to hold the demonstration over the weekend, as electorate office staff could not give a time in the foreseeable future when Brownlee would be in his office to meet with residents regarding their concerns. This came as no surprise to protest organisers, as Brownlee had recently publicly denied the existence of a housing crisis in Christchurch. He has claimed that while individuals may be experiencing housing issues, there is no widespread or systemic problem with provision and availability of shelter in the city.
Illustrating that this is clearly not the case, protesters shared their own personal stories over the megaphone of homelessness, hosting displaced friends and family, and finding themselves unable to stay in their homes, not because of earthquake damage, but as a result of rent raises making accommodation unaffordable to families on low pay. Read the rest of this entry »