Labour promises affordable houses

EMMA WHITTAKER
Last updated 05:00 30/11/2012
MP Phil Goff, Annette King, Carol Beaumont and Labour leader David Shearer
Jason Oxenham

HOUSING BOOST: Mt Roskill MP Phil Goff, Annette King, Carol Beaumont and Labour leader David Shearer visit affordable New Zealand Housing Foundation homes in Mt Roskill.

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Labour leader David Shearer has a clearer view of what his party's ambitious KiwiBuild programme could look like after touring affordable housing developments this week.

The flagship proposal would be the biggest government house building programme in 50 years and promises to get 100,000 families into new affordable homes within 10 years.

Mr Shearer and Mt Roskill MP Phil Goff spent Monday touring New Zealand Housing Foundation properties across Auckland to promote the policy by highlighting innovative projects already under way.

The foundation is a charitable trust that helps low to middle income people into houses through a range of shared equity programmes.

His second stop was at a development in Mt Roskill where Brandon Du Jong is a resident.

Mr Du Jong says without the foundation's help it's unlikely he and his wife would have been able to buy their first home.

"We'd been trying to save since we first got married," he says.

"We lived with family and friends so we could build up our savings goals and we made sacrifices. It's not like we're on bad incomes, we both have awesome jobs. We thought we would be saving for years and years."

Mr Du Jong was disillusioned by Auckland's housing market.

"We didn't even bother looking. We didn't think we would find anything, especially close enough to town."

The Mt Roskill houses are larger family homes worth around $400,000.

"A lot of people are asking what can you build in Auckland for that money. We're saying if you can build these here so close to central Auckland, we should be able to build much bigger homes if we're doing it en masse," Mr Shearer says.

KiwiBuild would be overseen by Housing NZ but be undertaken by private builders.

The houses would be sold for a set price - enough to cover the government's costs.

The median price would be $300,000 and the houses would be restricted to first home buyers who would have to live in them for a set time.

A penalty would apply if they were sold early.

The New Zealand Housing Foundation's properties are excellent examples of what could come to be under KiwiBuild, Mr Goff says.

"These are at the higher end for middle income families, but there are still about $100,000 cheaper than most houses in Auckland.

"It's medium density housing, but its a nice density. It's not like infill housing where a house is crammed on the end of a property. They're well built.

"We're looking at rolling this out on a national scale. It would mean a young couple really trying to get off their feet would be able to get into their own home," he says.

After the tour the MPs met with Auckland Mayor Len Brown to discuss options for making land available for the scheme.

"David Shearer makes a valid point that housing is a complex issue that cannot be fixed overnight," Mr Brown says.

"The Labour Party has made a very useful and helpful contribution to the debate about housing affordability in Auckland and across the country.

"Auckland Council will seriously consider the options put forward by the Labour Party as we work to make more affordable housing available in Auckland."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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