An Auckland resident, no doubt one of many, recently expressed concern to the Minister of Housing about housing affordability in Auckland, exacerbated by the continuing flow of immigrants.
Then he had the temerity to suggest the Government deal with this urgent accommodation problem by building houses directly. What? Us? Build houses? The Minister Mr Heatley acknowledged that housing affordability was an issue in Auckland but denied that immigration was a factor. Strange, but wait - it gets worse. He answered the resident’s suggestion that government could take a hand in the matter by saying: “It is more effective to create the right conditions so that the market readjust itself to become more affordable over time without becoming dependent on tax-payers funding housing developments.” Eh?
The market will make houses more affordable over time? What time? Key government indicators tell us (as every Aucklander already knows) that the cost of renting or buying a home in that city is still rising and has been since the end of 2010 after a barely perceptible pause. And that house construction figures show only minimal improvement. The National Party’s website declares that the Government’s policy on housing boasts of 1000 more state house by 2012, 50,000 upgrades, 4,400 first home buyers assisted with finance. Even if these targets were met, Aucklanders could be excused for thinking the figures relate to fixing the Auckland housing fiasco. Not so. Sadly, they are national goals.
Auckland has a serious affordable housing problem. Perhaps because it is chronic it is accepted as part of the Auckland character of boom and bust. Not a characteristic to be proud of necessarily but nothing to make a fuss over either. Such is the inevitable consequence of living in a modern, thriving metropolis. Get over it.
Is that what the Minister is implying? Who does he think is going to willingly “create the right conditions so that the market readjusts itself?” By putting people, not market considerations first, New Zealand Governments – mostly Labour - provided state housing for generations of Kiwis including baby-boomers. But no, business posing under that ubiquitous term The Market, has permeated every aspect of society
The housing situation in Auckland is not only not improving, it’s getting worse, which must generate a state of hopelessness for many residents. And not just for them, but for those of us who expect from our leaders a smidgeon of imagination and respect for history.