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Government missing in action on affordable housing

5 November 2009
Media Statement

Government missing in action on affordable housing

Housing New Zealand’s admission that it has been directed not to promote the shared equity scheme is yet further evidence that this Government is doing nothing to help struggling Kiwi families into home ownership, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Moana Mackey.

“National pledged to keep the shared equity scheme during the election campaign, but this was evidently a Clayton’s pledge, because it has instructed Housing NZ staff not to promote it and to keep the public in the dark.

“The reality is that this is another underhand cost-cutting measure, which will result in Housing NZ having to pay money which was set aside to get more families into home ownership back into the Government’s coffers.

“Housing affordability remains a growing problem in New Zealand, with fewer and fewer people able to afford to buy their own homes. The recently released Social Report shows the number of households spending more than 30 per cent of their income on housing has continued to increase, up from 21 per cent of households in 2004 to 29 per cent in 2008,” Moana Mackey says.

“Labour embarked on a range of measures to improve housing affordability. Some have been adopted by the Government, but a number have been canned or effectively shelved – as is the case with the shared equity scheme.

“This is despite the fact that Housing NZ claims shared equity as one of the programmes it has in place to improve housing affordability in its annual report.

“The annual report also claims selling state house to tenants is part of its housing affordability programme, which is another smoke and mirrors exercise. Tenants will pay market rates for the houses, so the scheme won’t in itself make it any easier to get into home ownership,” says Moana Mackey.

“The reality is Phil Heatley has done nothing to improve housing affordability since he has been Housing Minister. His promised Gateway affordable housing scheme has yet to eventuate, and he is repealing Labour's Affordable Housing (Enabling Territorial Authorities) Act, as well as removing the prohibition of restrictive covenants over land being used to exclude affordable housing.

“If he won’t let his agency promote their housing affordability initiatives, he should hand the funds over to community and social housing organisations, who will happily work to get more families into home ownership, which the Minister clearly has no interest in doing.”

ENDS

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