By Alex Tarrant
Labour Party leader David Shearer says it is possible to build 100,000 new homes over ten years at an average cost of NZ$300,000 based on figures from the Department of Building and Housing.
Shearer also appeared over the weekend to let out of the bag that Labour is considering a policy of more state house building.
On TVONE's Q&A programme on Sunday, Shearer was asked whether Labour was considering housing policy in relation to low-income earners who could not afford a deposit on a home.
"Obviously there's going to be other issues in and around that, and it’s around state housing, social housing, that sort of thing," Shearer said.
"We’ll roll out policy on that later."
Asked whether that meant more state houses could be expected, Shearer replied:
"There's a possib— Well, look, I’m not going to go there now, because that’s a policy—"
Interviewer Shane Taurima interrupted:" It sounded like you were going to say, 'It’s possible.'"
To which Shearer said: "No, no, what I will say is that part of the [KiwiBuild] housing package that we rolled out as well is about making sure that rental properties are actually up to scratch, so there's going to be a guarantee in and around rental homes."
'It can be done'
Meanwhile, on TVONE's Breakfast programme on Monday morning, Shearer said that while the average cost of building the 100,000 homes should be around NZ$300,000, some would cost more, and others less.
“You can do it. The Department of Building and Housing, which is what we based our figures on, have got the average price of houses and land sorted out, and that’s what we’ve based our figures on," Shearer said.
“Today, I’m going out to see the Housing Foundation [in Auckland], who have been doing this for some time. They are doing it for that price," he said.
“Now they are doing it without the advantages of economies of scale. So if you’re looking at 10,000 houses, obviously you’re able to get materials and all the other parts that go to make up a house that much more cheaply then you would if you were just doing 50, 60, 70, as the Housing Foundation’s doing.
“So it’s definitely doable," Shearer said.
Away from the quarter acre section
“We’ve got to get away from the idea of a house sitting on a quarter acre section. That’s not going to be the future, particularly, say, in Auckland," Shearer said.
“It’s going to have to be some terraced houses, some smaller sections. They’re not big houses; we’re talking about affordable homes that people can get their first chance of owning," he said.
Who’s going to build them?
Asked where the labour would come from to physically build the 10,000 houses a year, Shearer said:
“About five years ago we were building 30,000 homes a year, and today we’re building 10,000. So there’s a lot of capacity out there.
“We’ve lost a lot of people going to Australia. We’d like to think that some of these people could come back…”
“You offer them the possibility of solid work, which they don’t have at the moment – there’s no guarantee of work. There are contractors out there that are telling us, ‘we would love to be part of this,’ because it’s a long-term building project that they would be excited about," Shearer said.
“These building contractors are excited about it because they see work guaranteed for ten years. They’re not excited necessarily because of the joy of doing this, but they’re also seeing a real possibility of building homes over a long period of time," he said.
“Homes [will be built] in the sector of the market where the market has failed. Only five percent of the homes being built at the moment are affordable. The rest of them are 2,000-2,500 square foot houses that are just too expensive for people to buy.”