Labour Party leader Andrew Little announced yesterday that Labour would, if elected next year, carry out 8 actions aimed at fixing the housing crisis.
- Build 100,000 affordable homes around the country
- Ban foreign speculators from buying existing homes
- Introduce an affordable housing authority, partnering with the private sector, to fast-track development in our cities
- Tax property speculators who flip houses within 5 years
- Help 5100 more Kiwis into emergency housing every year
- Make Housing NZ build more state houses & maintain them properly, rather than paying dividends & selling stock
- Require all rental homes to be warm, dry & safe to live in, and
- Abolish the urban growth boundary and allow Auckland to grow up & out.
Mr Little said: “The Kiwi dream of home ownership is slipping away and we’re facing the biggest housing crisis New Zealand has ever seen. This is a game-changing policy package to fix the housing crisis.
“Labour will establish an affordable housing authority to work with the private sector to cut through red tape and get new homes built fast. It will partner with private developers, councils & iwi to undertake major greenfields & revitalisation projects, building affordable homes with KiwiBuild & the private market. These homes will be part of great communities built around parks, shopping centres & transport links.”
The party would put all surplus urban Crown land under the control of the affordable housing authority for use in its development projects.
“Only a quarter of adults under 40 own their own home, compared to half in 1991. Too few houses are being built, which is helping to drive up prices beyond the reach of middle New Zealand, and too few of the houses that are built are affordably priced for new home buyers.
“In Auckland, despite more than 13,000 new houses being needed to keep up with population growth, just 9400 new houses were consented in the past year. The trend for new consents is falling when a dramatic increase is needed.
“The Government’s estimate that only 5% of new builds are priced in the lowest quartile means fewer than 500 affordable houses will be built in Auckland this year.
“There is no single body tasked with driving the construction of affordable homes. Most developments are smallscale & slowed down by long consenting periods. To ensure profitability, private developers focus on building large, expensive houses.
“At the same time, regional centres are crying out for redevelopment of rundown town centres & suburbs but there is no support from the Government to get this done.”
100,000 affordable homes
Mr Little said Labour’s KiwiBuild programme would build 100,000 high quality, affordable homes over 10 years, 50% of them in Auckland. Standalone houses in Auckland would cost $5-600,000, apartments & townhouses under $500,000. Outside Auckland, houses would range from $3-500,000.
Growing the building workforce
Increased house-building will require a larger workforce, but the Labour policy is aimed more widely than that: “Labour’s dole for apprenticeships policy will subsidise employers to take on around 4000 young people for on-the-job training in fields including building & construction. Labour’s policy of 3 years’ free post-school education will see tens of thousands more people study in all fields, including building & construction. KiwiBuild is projected to create 5000 new jobs at its peak.”
Remove barriers that are stopping Auckland growing up & out
“Up & out” has become a common cry, often without thought on what the “out” would achieve. The constraining urban boundaries were put in place to prevent sprawl into rural areas and to enable infrastructure to service new development most efficiently, and therefore more cheaply. Auckland’s old councils were at odds on urban growth – the outer councils were attracting more housing development but had trouble meeting the infrastructure programmes & costs, while the old Auckland City Council favoured intensification as a regional policy.
Mr Little said: “Labour will remove the Auckland urban growth boundary and free up density controls. This will give Auckland more options to grow, as well as stopping landbankers profiteering & holding up development. New developments, both in Auckland & the rest of New Zealand, will be funded through innovative infrastructure bonds.”
Crackdown on speculators
He said Labour would ban non-resident foreign buyers from buying existing New Zealand homes: “This will remove from the market foreign speculators who are pushing prices out of reach of first-homebuyers.”
Labour would extend the bright line test, requiring income tax to be paid on any gains from the sale of residential property, from the current 2 years to 5 years: “This will target speculators who buy houses with the aim of making a quick capital gain. Current exemptions from the bright line test will continue.”
Mr Little said Labour would consult on way to close the negative gearing loophole: “Negative gearing can be used by speculators to make taxpayers subsidise losses on their properties. This is effectively a subsidy for speculation.”
Focus Housing NZ on helping people, not making a profit
Labour will make Housing New Zealand into a public service rather than an SOE, and will substantially increase the number of state houses. Unlike the current government, Labour will not milk state housing for a dividend, and will end its programme of state house sales.
Attribution: Party policy announcement.