Bold plan needed to solve Auckland housing crisis

Worker working on the roof of a house under construction
Labour plans to build 100,000 new affordable homes over 10 years if it wins the 2017 general election.

The Property Council has welcomed Labour’s plan to build 100,000 affordable houses over 10 years and sees it as a game-changer in alleviating the  housing affordability crisis.

Under the opposition party’s  plan, half the homes will be built in Auckland and sell for up to $600,000. But the plan relies on the party forming a Government in 2017.

Alex Voutratzis, the Property Council’s director of policy and advocacy says: “In Auckland, we have a housing affordability crisis and this is because we are not building enough houses to accommodate a rapidly growing population.

“We are seeing the results of the housing deficit across Auckland, with people living in sub-standard houses, garages and cars.”
Voutratzis says the country needs a bold  approach to housing affordability to create healthy, positive and sustainable communities.

This week I take my hat off to Grant Spencer, deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank.

The job of the RBNZ is to prevent inflation getting out of hand, while having just the right amount of economic growth to keep the economy bouncing along. Housing, is not its primary concern.

So when Prime Minister John Key told the RBNZ to get on and do something about house price inflation last week,   Spencer   suggested that  Key’s Government reduce immigration numbers. In other words, we can’t fix the housing supply issue overnight, so let’s manage the demand for housing.

During the past three years 160,000 people have moved to New Zealand — half settling in Auckland — putting pressure on infrastructure, housing, schools and health services.

According to research by the University of Otago, in 2013 there were more than 41,000 people living in severely overcrowded houses,  sleeping in cars or on the streets.

The Auckland City Mission and the Salvation Army have called for a national inquiry into homelessness. Last week, the Government said there was no need, maintaining it had a plan to deal with it.

Hamilton rising
Property valuation firm Quotable Value says home values across Hamilton City rose 29 per cent in the year to June. The average value there is $492,403.

The firm  says values in the surrounding districts are also rising, with Waikato values up by 26.4 per cent year on year.

QV valuer Stephen Hare says:  “We are continuing to see high levels of activity and demand at the lower value end of the market, in the price bracket of $400,000 to $600,000, from first home buyers and investors.”