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Housing affordability a top government priority

28 August 2008

Housing affordability a top government priority

The Social Report confirms the government is on the right track with its initiatives to improve housing affordabilty for New Zealanders, says Housing Minister Maryan Street.

“The government has been clear for some time that housing affordability is a critical issue, largely as a result of unprecedented house price rises of 80 per cent since 2002. Higher interest rates have clearly placed an additional burden on homeowners.

“While it is disappointing that market factors have resulted in the return to 1997 levels of the proportion of households spending over 30 per cent of their income on housing costs, the Labour-led government is taking, and has taken, a number of steps to improve housing affordability.” Maryan Street said.

“Earlier this year we released the results of indepth research into the issue and a range of potential new policy solutions. Work is now underway on a number of fronts to increase the supply of affordable housing and includes: identifying Crown land which could be used for new housing development, creating incentives to encourage the construction industry to build new starter homes and expanding the not-for profit sector’s ability to provide affordable housing for rent and purchase.

“In addition, in July I launched the Shared Equity pilot scheme which will help up to 700 families in high-priced areas into home ownership. This is on top of the government’s Welcome Homes Loans scheme which helps people in regional areas into homeownership and the KiwiSaver scheme, under which couples will be entitled to up to $10,000 for a house deposit,” Maryan Street said.

“I’m pleased that there have been significant improvements for Maori and Pacific households in the period covered by the Social Report.

“It’s also good to see increased housing affordabilty for households on the lowest 20 per cent of incomes. These results show significant initiatives such as Income Related Rents and Working For Families have reduced housing stress for those households in most need of support. In addition the Labour-led government commitment to enlarging the state housing stock continues,” Maryan Street said.

ENDS

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