Labour says vacant Housing New Zealand land in Wellington's Hutt Valley should be enough for a mixture of 400 KiwiBuild and state houses.
The one-to-three bedroom KiwiBuild properties would cost between $200,000 and $350,000, Labour leader Andrew Little said Wednesday.
The properties would be built by 2020, he said. About 300 would be KiwiBuild and 100 state houses.
Answering questions from media and local residents at vacant Housing NZ land near the Epuni train station, Little said the fact there was existing underground infrastructure on the land would help keep down the prices of the new homes; there used to be state houses on the land which had been removed in recent years.
“We know the price we can build KiwiBuild homes for will differ across the country because of the price of land. We know that doing a development on land like this will be cheaper because the underground infrastructure is already there.”
“Nothing has happened and there are no plans to do anything for at least the foreseeable future,” he said. “We’ve got to make this a priority. The need that families are in is urgent, and we’ve got to make this a priority and we will.”
“We know that we’re a country that is 60,000 houses short nationwide. Some economists are now saying that figure is bigger. We are a country that has a chronic shortage of houses. There’s only one answer to that – we’ve got to build more houses.”
Little raised stories of people living in garages and people movers. He was asked by a local emergency housing provider about Labour’s plans on the issue. Little replied that there was more government could do on emergency housing provision, but that in the end the best answer overall was the overall building of more houses.
“We used to be good at providing a house for people and we seem to have given up as a country. Well we can’t do that anymore,” he said. “Housing is crucial. It’s crucial for people’s life opportunities, it’s crucial for addressing the inequality challenge we’ve got.
“That’s why we are making housing our number one priority.”
Not just about central govt
Meanwhile, Lower Hutt City Mayor Ray Wallace asked Little whether Labour would work with local government on the provision of more social housing in the area. Little said that what happens with local government is crucial to the outcomes of the policy.
“They’ve got a role to play. We’ll be working with private developers, obviously private construction companies. We’ll be working with Weltec – they’ve got a world class construction school just down the road here.”
“That’s about building the workforce that goes with this as well,” he said. “This is not about central government standing on its own trying to do it, it is working with locals and with local councils as well.”
Wallace told Interest.co.nz that the Hutt Council had repeatedly attempted to purchase the land from Housing NZ at competitive rates, without any luck. The council would have put pensioner housing on the land, he said.
See the announcement from Labour below and Andrew Little's comments in the video above.
Labour will build a mix of 400 state houses and affordable KiwiBuild homes in the Hutt Valley in its first term in government to tackle the housing crisis there, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.
“Housing in the Hutt Valley is in crisis with many Kiwi families being priced out of both home ownership and the rental market. House prices have soared 25 per cent in the past year, and rents are up 9 per cent.
"266 Hutt families are on the waiting list for a state house. I know of one family that has been living in a garage for six months.
"Under Bill English, Housing New Zealand demolished hundreds of state houses in the Hutt and left the land empty for years. Now, Housing New Zealand is sitting on large tracts of empty land, where families used to live. That’s the heart of the housing crisis in the Hutt.
"Labour will build 400 additional houses and units in the Hutt Valley before the end of 2020. They will be affordable KiwiBuild homes for first homebuyers and Housing New Zealand houses. We are keen to work with the councils on housing solutions for the Hutt.
“We will build a mix of 2-3 bedroom family homes, and one bedroom units for older and disabled people. They will cost from $200,000 for one bedroom units to $350,000 for three bedroom starter terraced homes.
"We will build these houses on empty Housing New Zealand land in areas including Epuni, Naenae, Waiwhetu, and Petone, and look at opportunities to build in new developments around the Hutt.
“Our plans for the Hutt Valley show how Labour will tackle the housing crisis in government.
“Our KiwiBuild programme will build good, modern starter homes and units and sell them to first homebuyers at cost. We will ban overseas speculators from buying existing houses. We will stop Bill English’s policy of bleeding Housing New Zealand dry and, instead, allow it to invest in more houses for Kiwi families in need.
“For nine years, Bill English as Finance Minister and now Prime Minister has failed to show leadership on housing. Labour’s plan is what Hutt families have been crying out for,” says Andrew Little.