Government sets out where it will build new public homes as waitlist reaches new heights
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the new homes will help boost the economy as well as housing people.
The Government has revealed where it plans to build 8000 new public and transitional homes it promised in the last Budget, as it faces serious political pressure on housing.
In Budget 2020 the Government promised to build 6000 new public housing spots – state and community homes – as well as 2000 new transitional housing spots by 2024. Transitional housing replaces motel stays as a place for those the most in need to stay while they wait for a public house.
These houses are on top of another 6400 public homes announced in Budget 2018, 2200 transitional spots funded in 2019, and an over-delivery of 1650 new public housing places from the 2018 build programme – for a total of 18350 public and transitional homes.
The Government is keen to have roughly 81,300 public houses in total in 2024, up from 67,200 in 2018. It is also planning to have 6641 transitional spaces, up from 2341 in 2018.
The Public Housing Plan, released on Thursday morning as Labour MPs gather for their first caucus meeting of the year in Nelson, details where the extra homes announced in Budget 2020 will go.
Between 2140 and 2670 of the public homes are planned for Auckland, the country’s largest city, which has been the worst hit by the housing crisis. Almost half of the current waitlist are based in Auckland.
Auckland will also see almost half of the new transitional places – 900 of the planned 2000.
This will mean there are roughly 37,623 public homes in Auckland in 2024, up from 30,772 in 2018.
Wellington will see between 470 and 690 new public houses and up to 170 new transitional places. This will bring the total public homes in Wellington to around 10,000 in 2024, up from 8500 in 2018.
Waikato – mostly Hamilton – will see between 540 and 640 new public homes and between 70 and 320 transitional places.
The East Coast, primarily the centres of Gisborne, Napier, and Hastings, will see between 340 and 590 new public houses, as well as up to 170 transitional housing spots.
The announcement of the plan comes as the Labour Government faces heavy scrutiny over housing, a key election issue for the party in 2017.
As house prices have skyrocketed and rents have steadily climbed, the waitlist for public housing has exploded, more than quadrupling under Labour-led Government. At the end of November over 22,409 eligible households were on the waitlist, a record high.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said new public houses helped with homing people and boosted economic activity.
“Since November 2017 we have added 4579 newly built state homes across New Zealand; we are building more new public housing than any government has done in two decades,” Ardern said.
“This is not only delivering more warm, dry public housing for those most vulnerable to housing shortages, but also boosts economic activity, jobs in the building sector, employment and apprenticeship opportunities for young people.
Housing Minister Megan Woods said the Government was working to match new stock to the places with the most need.
“This follows decades of insufficient new housing stock being built and the selling off of thousands of state homes by the previous National Government,” Woods said.
“As this plan outlines, we will focus on building more public and transitional housing in New Zealand’s regions where population growth has significantly exceeded housing, leading to rent rises, housing shortages and deprivation.”
National’s housing spokeswoman Nicola Willis has criticised the huge rise in the waitlist, saying the Government will need to do a lot more than building state homes to bring it down.
“That requires making it far easier for developers to build more houses. That means getting rid of some of the barriers that are currently in the way.”
“Every person on that list is someone who is classified as being in significant housing need. They are on average waiting more than 200 days to find a house. We need a better response.”