Businessmen in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, have come up with a bizarre new solution to the growing problem of homelessness and astronomical property prices: house the homeless in cruise ships.
Although the proposal may seem outlandish, businessman Gary House has argued the idea makes practical sense.
House, in conjunction with several other business people, has argued that purchasing an outdated 400-bed passenger cruise liner from Italy is an economical solution to the city’s growing homeless epidemic.
With an average house price of more than NZ$940,000 (£498,000), Auckland property is amongst the most expensive in the world. Research from the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey 2014 found that Auckland is one of world’s areas, along with Vancouver, Sydney, San Francisco and London, to be facing a growing disparity between median household incomes and median house prices.
House estimates that the initial cost of purchasing and docking the cruise ship would be around NZ$5m. That is, the cost of around 5 average homes in Auckland.
House commented: “Living on a cruise ship is not a long-term solution but things are so bad for so many families now it could help ease the pressure for two or three years while longer-term strategies are put into place.”
The idea however has drawn widespread criticism. Campbell Roberts, from the Salvation Army, has argued New Zealand must ‘face up’ to its housing crisis and find long term solutions.
“A cruise ship is fine for a month but to live on it for any longer would be a strange experience for the inhabitants and it would have no sense of normality about it. I am fully supportive of a creative solution to this problem but I don’t think a cruise ship is the answer,” Roberts commented.
Still, back here in England, with government figures showing homelessness rates have risen 54 per cent since 2010, and the average price of a flat in London costing £476,450, many will wonder if a ‘creative solution’ is exactly what is called for.