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No new housing ideas from National

9 September 2008

No new housing ideas from National

National fails spectacularly on two counts with its rapidly released Housing policy, says Housing Minister Maryan Street.

“First it has failed to come up with any real solutions to improving the broader housing affordability issue, apart from repeating its tired and lazy answer to every problem, which is tax cuts

“Second, despite rhetoric about housing the needy, there is no commitment to increasing the supply of state houses in order to address the waiting list.

“Releasing its housing policy today, National confirmed it has adopted a whole range of Labour policy including embracing income related rents, the Housing Innovation Fund and an apparent commitment not to reduce the size of the state housing stock,” Maryan Street said.

“It has also adopted the government’s shared equity scheme and appears to have dropped plans to increase urban sprawl by increasing Metropolitan Urban Limits, although this needs clarifying.

“But despite regularly expressing concern for the housing needs of New Zealand’s most vulnerable families, National has refused to commit to increasing the state housing stock which is the first and most fundamental step to take to address housing need.

“The Labour-led government has grown the stock by nearly 8,000 homes since 1999, intent on rectifying the great state house sell-offs of the 1990s. This has involved considerable investment. Last year alone over $221 million was spent on new acquisitions,” she said.

“National plans to axe this spending and that is the real issue here – not the million or so extra dollars it will put into a programme or two here or there.

“National’s plans to sell state houses to tenants and replace the houses might sound good, but it is disingenuous. Over 90 per cent of tenants are on income related rents and the average income of a state house tenant is just over $17,000 a year. The average value of a state house is over $300,000 in Auckland and Wellington. Hardly any state house tenants could service a mortgage on these homes.

“When it comes to making houses more affordable, they are bereft of original ideas,” Maryan Street said.

“If they think allowing local councils to incentivise the release of residential land for housing development is the answer, why have they spent the last 10 months opposing this government’s Affordable Housing bill which passed into law last week?

“If they think ensuring councils have the tools to do this is the answer, then why didn’t they support the government’s legislation, which provides exactly these tools?

“As for National’s plans to improve the Residential Tenancies Act, why don’t they support the government’s bill which does exactly that for landlords and tenants?”


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