Govt's latest housing deal rubbished

DANYA LEVY
Last updated 08:27 17/05/2012
METIRIA TUREI
Fairfax NZ
NOT A GOOD DEAL: Metiria Turei says National is doing little to address the housing crisis.

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The Government's latest venture with the not-for-profit sector to build 153 more social homes for Auckland will do little to address the housing crisis, opposition parties say.

Housing Minister Phil Heatley yesterday announced $25.3 million of the Government's's $37.5m social housing unit growth fund had been allocated for 16 new projects in the Auckland region.

The largest allocation of $8.86 million is going to the New Zealand Housing Foundation to build 68 new affordable homes in West Auckland, Takanini, Mount Albert, New Lynn, and Kaikohe in Northland.

The homes are aimed at low-income families.

The Airedale Property Trust will build the first stage of 22 homes in Mangere for Pacifika families living in overcrowded or unsuitable accommodation with funding of $4.33 million.

Accessible Properties will build 60 new houses throughout the country for people with intellectual disabilities, 34 of those will be in Auckland. The IHC subsidiary will receive $8.25 million.

And the Community of Refuge Trust will build 31 houses with $3.89 million of funding.

It was revealed before the election the Government had scrapped its Gateway project which was launched in 2009 and enabled people to build on government land but defer the payment for the land for up to 10 years.

Only 32 people had taken up the offer nationwide and Heatley said he wanted to focus Government efforts on bigger schemes which had wider eligibility.

In Auckland 17 houses had been built in Hobsonville under the scheme.

Labour criticised the project at the time, saying banks wouldn't lend to people who couldn't service a full mortgage from the start because they were unlikely to be able to pay off the land five or 10 years later.

A report by the Housing Shareholders Advisory Group in 2010 found there was a 70,000 house shortfall across the country.

The Greens say yesterday's announcement is ''just a drop in the ocean''.

Co-leader Metiria Turei said the housing crisis was ''a ticking time bomb''.

''We urgently need to increase the supply of housing to cover the 70,000 house deficit we have in New Zealand. At this pace it will take decades.''

Families were struggling with high-cost, low-quality, overcrowded housing while some families didn't even have housing, she said.

The Government had made it more difficult to get on the state housing waiting list in an attempt to hide the problem, but it hadn't gone away.

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''There are still many thousands of families out there in need.''

Labour's housing spokeswoman Annette King said Heatley's announcement ignored the fact non-government organisations had put $170 million into social housing.

''To say that $25.3 million is going to make a lasting contribution is laughable.''

The latest venture would not address the demand faced by non-government providers and showed a lack of commitment to resolving social housing issues in the long term, she said.

- Stuff

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