Labour should be ashamed of the fact its poor housing policies have seen the number of people waiting for state houses explode to almost 14,500 on its watch, National’s Associate Housing spokesperson Simon O’Connor says.
“New Zealanders want housing solutions, but all they’re getting from this Government is excuses.
“Such a sharp increase in just two short years can only be explained by poor Government policy. Labour was too quick to meddle in the rental market when it should have been focused on building houses.
“The reason we’re in this mess today is because KiwiBuild tanked, Labour’s new rental standards scared off landlords at the affordable end of the market, and its decision to end tenancy reviews increased pressure on social housing supply.
“Associate Housing Minister Kris Faafoi needs to admit his Government’s policies are the reason an unprecedented number of Kiwis spent Christmas waiting for a home, and why so many more are now feeling the pinch of rental shortages in places like Wellington.
“If the previous National Government hadn’t built more than 3000 new state houses, and started many of the state houses being built today, then the situation would be even direr.
“If given the chance to govern this year, National will prioritise our most vulnerable Kiwis by throwing our weight behind community housing providers and introducing a target to reduce the time it takes MSD to house Priority-A clients on the social housing register.”
National will scrap the KiwiBuild brand, stop wasting taxpayers’ money, and press ahead with initiatives that will actually put roofs over New Zealanders’ heads, Housing spokesperson Judith Collins and Social Housing spokesperson Simon O’Connor say.
“KiwiBuild is the biggest public policy failure in a generation. Smacking KiwiBuild stickers on houses actually makes them harder to sell, not easier,” Ms Collins says.
“When National left office we had more than 27,000 home in the development pipeline thanks to the work of HLC, which replaced rundown houses on large sections with three times the number of warm, dry homes. We will continue this good work if elected in 2020.
“National will continue to support those able to enter the private market through our KiwiSaver HomeStart grants of between $3000 and $5000 per person for purchasing an existing home or up to $10,000 for building or purchasing a new home.”
Mr O’Connor says National will better manage the Government’s financial investment in social housing assets to build more and improve the quality of our social housing stock.
“Labour should be ashamed of the fact its housing policies have seen the number of people waiting for state housing explode on its watch to almost 14,000 – it’s a national tragedy.
“National will right this wrong. We will prioritise our most vulnerable Kiwis and introduce a target to reduce the time it takes MSD to house Priority-A clients on the social housing register
“We will throw our weight behind the community housing sector, which wants to do more to help New Zealanders into homes but needs better support from government.
“This support may be in the form of rent-to-buy schemes, the development of housing bonds, shared equity schemes, underwriting the building of social housing by community housing providers, or a policy shift to allow housing providers to manage state homes.
“National is concerned about anti-social behaviours, such as violence and drug use, and is keen to make sure social housing is safe for everyone, including children.
“We will explore a Remind, Remedy, Remove system. This would see a housing provider given a warning (reminder) when poor behaviour is demonstrated; assistance to fix an issue (remedy); and in cases where a tenant refuses to change, they should be removed.
National is also considering:
- Introducing a dollar-for-dollar scheme with homeless shelters to either improve or expand their facilities and services
- Extending Housing First to help people off the streets and into stable housing, including those with mental health issues.
“National built well over 3000 state homes during our previous term in government. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and deliver for New Zealanders again if elected in 2020.”
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National will look to improve our social housing stock so that homes are the right size, in the right place and of the right quality for New Zealanders to live in, National’s Social Housing spokesperson Simon O’Connor says.
“National believes that good homes build strong families. Right now, there’s an unmet need for more social housing so that every New Zealander has somewhere warm and dry to live.
“The current Government is single-mindedly obsessed with its failed KiwiBuild policy, but in its two years in office, the social housing wait list has more than doubled to over 13,000 families.
“The previous Government built more than 3,000 new state houses, and many of the newest state houses today are from projects started by National.
“There are four aspects we want to address within social housing:
- Increasing ownership options;
- Structural reform of Housing New Zealand;
- Encouraging rental responsibility and;
- Addressing homelessness.
“We’ll review whether Kāinga Ora (Housing New Zealand) should both build houses and manage tenancies, or these responsibilities should be separated to ensure one isn’t neglected in favour of the other. We want your thoughts on how this could be managed.
“We’ll also review the state housing portfolio to ensure the housing stock matches the needs of vulnerable New Zealanders, and we’ll make sure our social housing programme is well-run so that it’s responsive, efficiently managed and families can find the right home.
“National wants to work with Community Housing Providers (CHPs), who know the needs of their communities best. We want to find local solutions to local housing challenges.
“We’re keen to work with CHPs to develop shared equity and long-term partnership models, so more Kiwis have pathways to home ownership.
“The previous National Government sought to address homelessness through our ‘Housing First’ programme, which focussed first on housing the homeless and enabling engagement with further social services. This approach has been proven to work, and the next National Government will expand it.
“We’re aspirational for New Zealanders. We want to give Kiwis targeted, tailored support so they have a place to call home, can reach their full potential and live better lives.”
It’s disappointing but unsurprising that the social housing waiting list has more than doubled under this Government, from 5,800 to almost 13,000, National’s Social Housing spokesperson Simon O’Connor says.
“This Government’s policies are a perfect storm for state housing. Not only has it passed new taxes on home owners, new regulations on home owners, and told landlords to take their money elsewhere, it has also taken away tenancy reviews, meaning someone can have a colossal pay rise and keep a state house.
“It isn’t kind or caring to have policies that see rents rise faster than any time in our history, or to keep people in state houses after they no longer need them.
“The Government has spent $2 billion on a failed KiwiBuild project while Kiwis are being slammed with rapidly rising rents and a pile-on of petrol taxes as a result of its policies.
“Removing tenancy reviews only increases the pressure on social housing supply, at the cost of helping the New Zealanders who need it the most.
“It’s clear the Government has no plan to help those in need beyond spending more and more taxpayers’ money on temporary grants.
“Increasing numbers of New Zealanders are struggling to put a roof over their heads, and the Government’s policies are only making it harder for them to make ends meet.”
For all its big promises about putting roofs over people’s heads, the only thing this Government has delivered is a sky-rocking list of people in need, National’s Social Housing spokesperson Simon O’Connor says.
“The number of people on the waiting list for social housing is now at an all-time high, which is a sad indictment on the Government’s housing policies.
“Things will not improve until the Government stops desperately trying to blame the previous Government, and starts taking responsibility for the fact its policies have driven New Zealanders out of their homes.
“Rents are now increasing two and a half times faster than they were under National. The Government has also scared off landlords by burdening them with more costs and raising the spectre of a capital gains tax.
“Less housing stock is being freed up because of Labour’s decision to cancel public housing tenancy reviews.
“The addition of 2178 public houses to the market is welcome news, and given roughly two thirds of the houses built during the past two financial years were either contracted, consented or commenced by the previous National Government, it’s nice to see Megan Woods finally being positive about the work we were doing in this space.
“It’s also good to see the Government has been engaging community housing providers rather than trying to manipulate the market itself through terrible policies like KiwiBuild.
“But providers are saying they can do more and the Government needs to increase its efforts in this area.”
The latest figures from the Ministry of Social Development continues to show a Government losing further control of the housing situation, National’s Social Housing spokesperson Simon O’Connor says.
“The figures for the June 2019 quarter shows in cold, hard detail that the Government continues to fail in its promise to fix the housing problem.
“The number of Emergency Housing Special Needs grants has almost doubled, with more than 14,000 more grants given out. This represents 14,000 more Kiwis and their families struggling to get by than the same time last year, all the while with a Government saying it is making New Zealanders’ lives better.
“But it is clearly making things worse.
“The total cost of these grants has increased by almost 230 per cent compared to last year. In the June 2018 quarter, just over $10 million was spent on Kiwis in need, compared to more than $34 million in the most recent quarter. That’s an increase of more than $24 million.
“National believes in helping those in need, but it’s clear here the Government has no plan other than spending more and more money on these temporary grants.
“The so-called ‘Wellbeing’ Budget all but admitted the Government doesn’t think its housing policies will make a difference, allocating more than $118 million in the coming years to cover the cost of increasing housing grant demands.
“Finally, these latest figures show the average cost of each grant has gone up $300 in just one year due to higher rents which have been driven up by more regulation and tax changes.
“The cost of living has dramatically increased under this Government, and more and more New Zealanders are struggling to put a roof over their heads. The Government is making it harder for our most vulnerable New Zealanders to make ends meet.”
The continued rise in the number of New Zealanders waiting for social housing shows the Government is all talk and no plan when it comes to putting roofs over people’s heads, National’s Social Housing spokesperson Simon O’Connor says.
“The Government painted itself as having all the answers for people in need of social housing. But the reality is, the waiting list has doubled under Labour and has grown to its highest number in at least a decade under its watch.
“More than 11,600 eligible households were on the housing register at the end of May.
“Rather than sitting back and trying to blame the problem on previous administrations, the Government needs to take responsibility for the fact its policies are hurting the very New Zealanders they claim to want to help.
“Labour’s anti-landlord housing policies have pushed up rents $50 since they came into office, meaning rents are increasing two and a half times faster than they were under National.
“The Government also scared off landlords at the bottom end of the market by raising the spectre of a capital gains tax and pushing extra costs onto landlords.
“Labour’s decision to cancel tenancy reviews for public housing tenants has also seen less housing stock freed up.
“The growing problem speaks to how much of a distraction the disastrous KiwiBuild policy was. Rather than wasting time trying to make his middle-class welfare work, Former Housing Minister Phil Twyford should have been focusing on the bigger issue in front of him.
“It remains to be seen whether the new minister in charge of public housing, Kris Faafoi, will adopt Twyford’s approach of blaming others for his failings, or he’ll actually roll up his sleeves and deliver policies that will help New Zealanders in need.”
The Botched Budget has revealed the Government has no solutions to the increasing state housing waiting list and the exploding numbers of people needing emergency housing help makes a mockery of its so-called wellbeing focus, National’s Social Housing spokesperson Simon O’Connor says.
“The Government has spent almost three times as much money this year on Emergency Housing Special Needs Grants as it anticipated just one year ago. National believes in providing for those in need, but this substantial and increasing spend on emergency housing grants shows the Government’s initiatives are failing.
“What’s more the Government is budgeting for a massive cost blow out in the upcoming years of $100 million more each year than what had been budgeted, showing the Government already admitting defeat when it comes to helping Kiwis into homes.
“With more than 11,000 New Zealanders already on the waiting list for a social house, the increase in funding for hardship grants shows the Government is admitting the waiting list is unlikely to get smaller.
“As a consequence the Government will need more than $400 million over four years to provide for those still waiting for a state house, compared to the $82 million needed under National.
“A real wellbeing budget would take steps to address the growing need for a state house, instead of throwing more money at maintaining problem. Housing Minister Phil Twyford has talked up his Government’s housing policies, but it’s very clear he doesn’t expect them to make a difference.
“The high spend on emergency housing grants shows a Government aware it will not be able to substantially reduce the social housing waiting list.
“The Government talks big about wellbeing, but KiwiBuild, its state housing programme, and the Botched Budget paint a very different picture – its policies are failing and they expect even more Kiwis to be waiting for a home.”
It’s disappointing to hear decisions made by this Government are increasing the number of people relying on social housing, National’s Social Housing spokesperson Simon O’Connor says.
“At the Ministry of Social Development annual review yesterday, officials acknowledged that the waiting list for social housing is longer than at any point in history. Officials noted this is partly because more people are leaving private housing in search of social housing.
“It is clear this is due to Housing Minister Phil Twyford’s decision to make life difficult for landlords. After telling landlords to take their money elsewhere, they are doing just that.
“By setting up more roadblocks and hurdles for landlords, and raising compliance costs, many landlords have decided not to rent out their properties. As a result more people are forced to rely on publicly funded social housing.
“Landlords are losing out under this current Government and are being driven out of the market which is in turn impacting our most vulnerable.
“It is time for this Government to admit that its plan for social housing has been a complete failure. Mr Twyford needs to be striking a balance between landlords and tenants. Instead he’s forcing more and more people into social housing.”
Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford needs to swiftly clamp down on state housing tenants that are renting out surplus rooms in their social housing properties, National’s Social Housing spokesperson Simon O’Connor says.
“Housing New Zealand officials admitted at the Social Services Select Committee yesterday some tenants are renting out spare rooms in their state houses.
“But when Mr Twyford was questioned about this today, he wasn’t aware state houses were available to rent on Airbnb, and couldn’t provide an answer on how he would stop this from happening.
“How can Mr Twyford have confidence with Housing New Zealand’s tenancy management when people are clearly living in houses larger than their needs?
“Mr Twyford’s mismanaged approach to housing challenges in New Zealand has seen over 8,500 people on a waiting list for accommodation in Auckland – a record high.
“Why is Housing New Zealand allowing tenants to have spare rooms, when there is such high demand?
“National was focused on ensuring Housing New Zealand’s homes were in the right place and of the right size to best fit its tenants’ needs.
“Tenancy reviews were a practical and effective solution ensuring houses matched tenants’ current needs. With the axing of these reviews, tenants are living in homes larger than required – taking the mickey out of Housing New Zealand by generating extra income.
“Mr Twyford was extremely vocal about the last Government’s actions on State Housing, yet he’s been in the job for almost a year and the number of people on the waiting list has increased.
“The Minister has no idea what is happening in his state houses, nor can he provide any detail on how he is going ensure tenants are in houses that best suit their needs.”