In response to a reporter asking why the government had demolished more state houses than it built in the past six months the government blamed lockdowns and supply chain issues and the PM said:
“One of the main priorities of this government has been when we came into office and were facing a housing crisis where the last national government had continuously sold off our state housing was to rebuild our public housing stock and we have done that at an incredible rate”
It’s “incredible” – yes – but not in the way the PM tells it. The facts are:
- Despite four years of Labour-led governments, the number of state house rentals available has remained largely static (2016 – 67,041 rentals; 2021 – 67,858) while the state house waiting list has soared from 5,000 to 24,546 with half of that number being Māori whanau.
- The present government has continued the previous governments budget of funding additional social places at 1600 per year despite the fact the waiting list had exploded.
- The government is committed to keeping state housing at 3.6% of total housing stock rather than the 5.4% of total housing stock it was in 1990. The government has no plans to change this despite the massive housing crisis for low-income tenants and families.
- In his evidence to the Waitangi Tribunal in mid 2021 (Wai 2750) Kainga Ora CEO Andrew McKenzie says the organisation has an “ambitious programme” over the next four years which will provide a net increase of 8,200 state houses. Providing 2050 additional state houses each year for a waiting list of 24, 546 can only be described politely as gross political negligence.
- Andrew McKenzie confirmed that when the Labour led Government came to power in 2017 officials recommended that the previous Government’s public housing budget be increased so state house building would increase from 1600 to 2000 a year but, astonishingly, the Labour-led government said NO and is still sticking to National’s plan despite the explosion in the waiting list.
- The government’s long-term plan, according to Kainga Ora’s current Long-Term Plan, is to add 23,000 additional places over 30 years. These houses are needed NOW – not in 30 years time! Andrew McKenzie explained to the Waitangi Tribunal that the ability of Kainga Ora to further expand supply is limited by Kainga Ora having to fund additional housing out of its own resources and borrowings.
- This means it is only by selling land can Kainga Ora build even the modest number it is building now. Kainga Ora is therefore involved in large-scale privatisation of crown land for private sector housebuilding – on former state-house land – while the state house waiting list and the misery of families waiting for state housing increases.
- Social housing providers are NOT the answer. These are niche providers who can never deliver the scale of housebuilding needed to meet this crisis for those on low-incomes.
- We desperately need a stand-alone government agency which embarks on an industrial scale state house building programme which uses lower borrowing rates for the government, economies of scale, crown and local body land and fast-tracking planning, design and building.
- Taking this approach in the late 1930s the first Labour government was building 3,500 state houses per year; the equivalent number today would be 10,000 per year. The government has built – 5 (minus five) over the past six months.
- An industrial scale state house building programme would save billions through reducing the massive spending on motels (over $300 million per year) and in accommodation supplements (over $1.7 billion per year) These subsidies to private sector landlords are “dead money”.
The State House Building Coalition has begun a campaign to force the government to change its policy.
The second step of the campaign is the petition here.