'Underwhelming' - Labour's housing plan gets lukewarm reception

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: NZ Herald
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: NZ Herald
The Government has been slammed for its "underwhelming" Public Housing Plan.

Yesterday it unveiled where it intends to build 6000 public and 2000 transitional housing places between now and 2024 - places already promised in last year's Budget.

Emergency housing providers and the opposition say with demand skyrocketing, the government needs to do much more to address the housing shortage.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern backed her Government's record, and the ambition of its Public Housing Plan.

"This is the largest public housing build programme since the 1970s," Ardern said.

"We are working at a cracking rate on public housing."

The Labour-led government has built more than 4500 state homes since its 2017 election win and intends to pass 18,000 by the end of 2024.

But with 22,500 people on the ever-growing public housing waiting list, Monte Cecilia Housing Trust chief executive Bernie Smith hoped for more.

"It was just totally underwhelming. Sadly there's no reflection of the growing housing wait register, you know, we should be looking at double these sorts of numbers to keep up with the growing need," Smith said.

While he applauded the plan's focus on working with community and iwi providers, Smith felt there was a glaring omission.

"From a South Auckland perspective there's nothing around Pasifika housing and we know in South Auckland Pasifika homelessness is huge."

National Housing spokesperson Nicola Willis said yesterday's announcement was "cynical".

"This is a hopelessly inadequate response to New Zealand's housing shortage. It's nothing but a re-hash of previously announced proposals and very underwhelming for the thousands of New Zealanders who are increasingly being locked out of the private market."

It was was "a drop in the bucket", and the Government needed to hurry up and make it easier for everyone to build new houses, Willis said.

"The Government will never get there through state house building alone, the government simply can't keep up with the surging demand as people are priced out of the private market."

But Ardern said National fanned the flames by selling off state houses and her government was committed to fixing the housing crisis.

"There is no silver bullet to fix the housing crisis, but that is not a reason for inaction. It's a reason to tackle this issue on multiple fronts and on an ongoing basis.

Greens co-leader Marama Davidson said while this was a good first step the government needed to move much faster.

She thought it should take advantage of cheap borrowing to build even more state homes.

"Covid has already pushed us well over the normal debt target that some governments try and keep, but actually we're in a crisis for housing and now more than ever we can really be prioritising our full financial instruments to be investing in a massive upscale of public housing," Davidson said.

Ardern promised action on housing in the coming months, with initiatives to cool the property market, and help first home buyers expected in late February.

High level announcements will also be made about the Resource Management Act then - and Ardern said the May Budget would have a specific focus around "supply-side issues".

Comments

The priority waiting list was 5,000 in 2017 and now 22,000. Labour need to take ownership of this crisis rather than blame the previous Government for stuff that has happened since.

I'm certainly no expert on housing but I do know a little about community groups, especially "emergency" providers and they all have one thing in common, Whatever they are gifted, especially by the Govt, it is never enough.
The defunct and totally ineffective National Party who denied the existence of the crisis has a cheek to offer any criticism at all, given that they created the problem with their total inaction, indeed, de-funding and dismantling of the housing industry over the last 9 years they were in power.
This seems to be a rational, achievable first step. Achievable without pushing the national debt into the stratosphere.
It deserves a B+ rating at this stage.

We as New Zealanders really deserve the low quality government players we have had for the last twenty-odd years. Most of us are so entrenched in voting for the party our parents told us we should that we never question how useless most politicians are at achieving anything of value. Of course the Labour housing policies are a dismal failure. The numbers prove that. Of course the National Party is in disarray. Of course the small parties do little other than increase the Government morning tea bills. We have 120 politicians in a country that would be oversupplied if we reduced the number to 40.

The one thing that our Prime Mistresses and and Prime Ministers have been becoming better at is the quality of their photographs and their personal branding. Helen Clark started this. John Key took it further. And the current one is just amazing at having her photo taken.

If we actual want the country run efficiently, we need to institute something like 'stunt doubles' for politicians. Intelligent hard-working ordinary ugly people that will do the work that is needed to produce and implement policies that benefit we citizens. In the meantime we are destined to remain underwhelmed.

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