Property ladder: State housing solutions

Last updated 05:00 20/06/2013
Housing NZ houses

BUDGET HOUSING: State-house properties in Auckland.

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In the mid-1930s - confronted by what I think is something similar to today's budget housing shortage - the new Labour government embarked on a major house-building initiative. They built fairly plain 100-120sqm houses in large numbers. Most were rented out.

Now, 70-odd years later, the houses are still there and people seem happy to live in them and "ex-state" is a positive selling point. Some of the areas where they were built are now pretty respectable, some not. Many have been sold.

Housing Corp (or whatever they were called then) was not the only player in this market. Neil Homes and Keith Hay to name a few built lots of pretty basic houses in Auckland 40-odd years ago.

People still live in them, even if they do have just one bathroom. They aren't hard to sell, they don't leak, and the areas are not all ghettos.

I don't see what holds us back from doing it all again.

It would obviously require some government input to happen. There would be planning issues and probably some to-and-fro about whether the gummint or the private sector puts up the money, but the basic idea would be to mount an assault on the housing shortage by ensuring lots of houses get built at the budget end of the market.

It seems to me that very little is being done to boost the supply of affordable housing. The Labour/Greens proposal (build a whole lot and sell them off) makes sense to me, but it could probably be done in the private sector too.

The construction industry wouldn't care who was funding it so long as it generated building work. After all, James Fletcher's big break in the 1930s was building state houses.

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