PM unveils housing plan, promises to fix 'crisis'


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Government is firmly focused on the economic rebuild and addressing the housing shortage and affordability.

Speaking to reporters in Nelson about this morning's announcement of the details of a public housing build, Ardern said the current pace of housing prices was unsustainable.

The problem included low supply, low interest rates and the interface with local councils, as well as the cost of building supplies.

The Government would tackle planning laws, try to tilt the market to first-home buyers and boost the supply of all kinds of housing from public to affordable housing.

By late February she said the Government would have considered advice from the Reserve Bank and Treasury to try to take some heat out of the market.

Changes to planning laws would also be addressed early this year. By July the national policy statement on urban planning would also kick in, to try to open up land.

Ardern said the decisions on the economy had been the right ones during Covid-19.

"But we can't stand by while house prices increase at the unsustainable rates of 2020."

Housing Minister Megan Woods said that since November 2017, the Government had delivered 4759 new built state houses.

She said the public housing plan released today, setting nine areas where 8000 new state houses will be built, would build on that.

There were areas where the need was greater because of population growth outstripping the provision of housing. "This doesn't mean other areas will miss out. Investment in public housing creates enormous dividends in health and social outcomes."

Ardern said although the plans for 8000 new houses had already been announced in May last year, she believed it was significant. The focus for new builds will be in Northland, Hamilton, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Napier, Hastings, Palmerston North and Whanganui.

"We are and have been playing catch-up. We came in last terms having had the previous Government selling house stock. We are working at a cracking pace on public housing."

She said ramping up the speed of building had meant scaling up the number of tradies as well, so there was a focus on apprentices to try to get there.

Ardern said the goal was to make sure the houses were fit for purpose for the families who needed them.

Although the numbers were not enough to meet the current demand, she defended it saying there were other levers the government could pull such as working with iwi.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: NZ Herald
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: NZ Herald

PUBLIC HOUSING PLAN

The country's state house waiting list continues to balloon - nearly 22,500 people are now on the public housing waitlist.

The Government this morning released its Public Housing Plan, which identifies where in the country the additional 8000 state and transition houses will go. Those 8000 homes were one of the headlines of last year's Budget.

Ardern, who is in Nelson for Labour's annual retreat, said: "Fixing the housing crisis is a key focus of this Government" and the state housing programme played a key part in the Government's plan.

Of the 8000 homes, 6000 are state housing places and 2000 are transitional.

Ardern said the Government remained on track to deliver more than the previously announced 18,000 extra places by 2024.

The unveiling of where these already-announced state houses will be built comes as pressure ramps up on Ardern's Government around housing.

Greens co-leader and Associate Minister of Housing Marama Davidson said the growing state housing waitlist needs to be "urgently addressed" by the Government.

"We should be using more of the tools in the toolbox to fix this runaway housing crisis, and that includes taxing wealth or capital gains."

Ardern has ruled both these taxes out numerous times.

"We're frustrated," Davidson admitted. "We've been quite clear, Government is not doing enough if we are not putting all the tools on the table so that people can afford to rent, buy kai for their households, and even own their own homes."

National was also critical of the Government's ever-expanding state housing waitlist.

"This is the sad result of Labour's continued failure to get on top of our housing shortage," National's housing spokeswoman Nicola Willis said.

"Despite promises to fix our shortage, housing has become more unaffordable than ever under Labour with more and more Kiwis struggling to find a home."

But Housing Minister Megan Woods, however, blamed the previous National Government for the long waiting list.

"It follows decades of insufficient new housing stock being built and the selling of thousands of state homes by the previous National Government."

Comments

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That's all well and good but I notice there are none planned for the south island at all. Dunedin desperately needs more housing so you gotta wonder if our council or our local politicians even bothered to put our case to parliament.

I am a labour supporter but this Labour Govt needs to stop talking and get building and use their executive powers to get around the many issues slowing down construction.
If they want to be a 3 term government, this is the time to actually get on and do things. We don't have the Peter's handbrake to blame now

Will that include KiwiBuild?

Announcements are easy. Doing is harder. Watch what politicians do, not what they say. Turn the volume off and you'll get a better idea of what is happening.

Was it not this Government that promised 100,000 houses? and also the Prime minister herself was going to fix child poverty which has got worse under her????

I will believe it when I see it.

Much of the population increase is because UK,USA,Australia,Canada put stricter immigration requirements than NZ. After covid has done its dash there will be an exodus of emigrants.

So, labours 2nd term, they are going to promise to do things that they promised to do last time?
I wonder if people will finally wake up to the fact this lot are just plain hopeless at doing anything, regardless if I agree with what they were trying to do or not.
Weak

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