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Infometrics Is Right To Call For A Ramping Up Of State House Building Post Covid 19

The State Housing Action Network (SHAN) supports the call by the economics consultancy Infometrics for the Government to step up its state housing building program to 9400 over the next two years as part of its Covid 19 response package (1).

Currently under the Government’s 2018 Public Housing Plan (2) there is a budget to increase the supply of social housing by an average of 1600 per year, with the Government through Kainga Ora to provide 70% and private Community Housing Providers supplying the balance. This social housing budget is in essence just a continuation of that of the previous National Government (3).

To date the Government’s social housing budget has been slightly exceeded with an average of about 1900 social houses a year being added (4), but this is only due to a greater than expected number of social houses provided by Community Housing Providers. From September 2017 to December 2019 the Government has added 1987 (5) and Community Housing Provider 2300 additional social houses (6).

Over the same period the numbers on the social housing waiting list has ballooned out to historic highs. When the Government came to power in September 2017 the waiting list was less than 6000 and had not exceeded this level for at least the preceding two decades. However, a year later the waiting list had ballooned to nearly 10,000 and is now more than 15,000 (7). 

Despite this crisis the Government has stuck to its initial social housing building plan budgets. SHAN agrees with Infometrics that with the demand for social housing and capacity in the building industry increasing post Covid 19 now is the ideal time to ramp up the social housing building program.

Even then the suggested increase to about 9400 new social houses over the next 2 years will likely only to slow down increases in the waiting list for social housing. Failing these types of measures the homelessness crisis in New Zealand will only deepen.

As noted in the Infometrics release, the Government was building state housing at this rate going into the Second World War. Coming into the current Covid 19 crisis we need to roll up our sleeves and get serious about state housing again to get social housing back to levels provided in other comparable societies (8).

_______________

1. Time to channel the great depression, Get building state houses: Infometrics : Stuff 7 May 2020. 

2. 2018 Public Housing Plan, Ministry of Social Development, August 2018.

3. In fact, the National Government’s budget to reach 72000 social housing places by June 2020 exceeds the current target by that date of 70, 428.

4. From 66187 to 70474. September 2017 and December 2019 Public Housing Quarterly Housing Report. .

5. From 61313 to 66187. September 2017 and December 2019 Public Housing Quarterly Housing Report. .

6. From 4874 to 7174. September 2017 and December 2019 Public Housing Quarterly Housing Report.

7. 14 899 December 2019 Public Housing Quarterly Housing Report

8. The 2019 OECD Economic Survey of New Zealand noted that social housing stocks are low when compared with international norms and need to be increased

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