We have a housing emergency in New Zealand. Like many people we are ashamed and angry that in a wealthy country like ours, we have so many people living in garages, in cars and on the streets. This is not the kind of country most New Zealanders recognise or want.
There aren’t enough houses in New Zealand, especially in Auckland, but also in Christchurch. This shortage is part of the reason rents have risen and house prices have increased sharply in some regions.
As a result New Zealanders who have the least are doing it tough. They can’t afford to pay market rents, or can’t find a home to rent in the private market and so need Government assistance and/or a state house.
In Christchurch, the number of people needing social housing is second only to Auckland.
The Green Party’s plan to help deal with the crisis facing thousands of vulnerable New Zealanders is to build hundreds of new state homes.
During a housing emergency, Housing New Zealand (HNZ) should not be forced to pay a dividend and taxes to the Government when it could be building houses with that money. The Green Party would allow HNZ to keep the $118 million in dividends and $89 million in taxes that it is forecast to pay the Government in 2015/16.
This would free up $207 million for Housing New Zealand to build around 450 new state houses in 2016/17 for those most in need.
Building 450 new homes could directly create nearly 1,400 jobs, based on Westpac’s 2015 estimates of the labour required to increase the housing supply in Auckland.
We would also stop the Government’s sell-off of more than 2,000 state houses so that more homes were available for urgent housing.
When an estimated 34,000 people live in severe housing deprivation – on the streets, in garages, in cars and in shelters or boarding houses, these policy changes are no silver bullet. But they start to tackle the housing emergency.
We can ensure that every New Zealander lives in a warm, dry and safe home. To do that, we need a government that builds more state houses, instead of selling them off, and pretending the problem doesn’t exist.