Opinion: The government’s social housing strategy

The apparent strategy adopted by this government to buy up homes off the open market in order to compensate for its lack of follow through on KiwiBuild is only going to make things worse in the housing market, not better.

The disclosure last year that Housing New Zealand, now known as Kainga Ora, had purchased five homes on Nelson Street for nearly $1 million each shined a light on what this government has turned to following the failure of their flagship housing policy.

The issue with this is that buying homes off the open market to inflate our state housing portfolio is only adding to the problem, since it’s not actually increasing the country’s housing stock.

It means the government is competing with first home buyers, who have worked hard and saved for years in order to get their foot in the door only to lose out to the large state-funded pockets of Kainga Ora.

It’s also a poor use of taxpayer money, particularly in the case of Nelson Street. For what the government paid, it could have built twice as many homes itself and housed twice as many families in need.

The government says it is trying to accomplish two main goals when it comes to housing – increasing the stock of affordable homes in New Zealand, particularly in Auckland, and ensuring there are enough so that everyone has a sheltered place to sleep at night.

But this strategy ensures their failure at both of those objectives. It does not add to the housing stock, and it is not helping those most in need.

Rather than buying million-dollar state homes off the open market the government should follow through on the promises it made. While I fundamentally disagree with KiwiBuild, building new homes is what’s required right now.

If elected into government later this year, National will scrap the Resource Management Act and replace it with something that actually makes sense.

The biggest impediment to the construction of affordable homes at present is the exorbitant costs placed upon developers and builders through the consents process, so we will simplify things to make it easier to build what’s needed.

I am hosting a public meeting on social housing with National’s Spokesperson on the subject Simon O’Connor, on Tuesday 24 March at the Howick Bowling Club, 33 Selwyn Street, Howick, at 7:00pm. Please come along if you’re interested in hearing more about this issue.

Simeon Brown, Member of Parliament for Pakuranga