Plan to fix city housing crisis

AUGUST REVIVAL: House prices and sale numbers rose in August.
AUGUST REVIVAL: House prices and sale numbers rose in August.

Auckland Council will today unveil an action-plan to combat the city's housing crisis as officials warn home ownership among Aucklanders could fall to 50 per cent in the next five to 10 years.

The Housing Strategic Action Plan says there is a "chronic and increasing shortfall in supply, affordability, diversity and quality of housing stock in Auckland".

Under stage one of the plan the council will investigate and develop a range of housing development initiatives. They will also look at policy and regulations to increase the supply of affordable housing. The findings will be presented to the Auckland Plan Committee in December 2012.

Stage two involves the council attempting to harness the power of other sectors.

"There is no doubt there is a serious housing crisis in Auckland. The number of home owners is going down and has decreased further during the last ten years,'' chairman of the Auckland Council Housing Committee Ann Hartley said.

''Research shows that there was approximately 75 per cent home ownership in the 1980s but in the next five to ten years that figure could drop to as low as 50 per cent.''

Last September the Child Poverty Action Group released a report estimating Auckland will face a shortage of 11,000 homes by 2014. Over the next 20 years the housing deficit is set to grow to 90,000, the report stated.

Hartley said the $1.2 billion the Government had invested in the accommodation supplement in recent years should be redirected to help people buy their own homes.

Fellow housing committee representative councillor Cameron Brewer blamed the council for making Auckland unaffordable.

His criticism comes after the council last week decided to spend $1.1 million investigating ways to pay for the city's major transport projects - by taxing motorists. Fuel taxes, congestion and network charges and additional car parking fees are being considered.

"Auckland is getting less and less affordable and ironically the latest extra costs actually come from the council,'' he said.

''Last month it was user-pays rubbish. This month the mayor's talking tolls and a regional fuel tax, and next month most householders can expect rate rises and water bill hikes."

Brewer was confident the council could address the housing shortage by engaging with the Government, its departments and the private sector.

"Some of us are pushing back to ensure this is not about council becoming a property developer or pouring ratepayers' [money] into growing its social housing stock. This must be more about facilitating better outcomes, bringing all the parties together, rezoning and upzoning appropriate areas to allow more housing developments to go ahead, and the council [should be] looking at ways to become more friendly [when] issuing the likes of consents.

"Until we sort out the shortage too many people will be paying too much rent, buying a house will be prohibitive for many, and too many will be living in very poor conditions or non-consented converted garages."

Auckland Now