Amy Adams has defended levels of building under the government’s Auckland Housing Plan, saying the onus is with private property owners in the city to lead the way on increasing the supply of affordable housing there.
Responding to questions from Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford in Parliament Wednesday, Adams, Minister for Housing New Zealand and Social Housing, said the government was playing its part with building announcements regarding the 5% of Auckland land it owned.
Adams said between 4,500 and 10,000 of the planned houses would be sold into the ‘affordable’ market, defined as being less than $650,000. She added that a further 16,000 houses would be sold into the ‘market’, while 13,500 new social housing units would be built.
If those last two figures are the case, that would put the amount of ‘affordable’ homes at the bottom of the 4,500 to 10,000 range, given the headline announcement for 34,000 houses.
Twyford asked why such a small number of affordable units had been proposed compared to Auckland’s needs. He noted Reserve Bank comments that the rate of house building was insufficient to meet population growth or reduce housing shortages.
Separately on Wednesday, Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler told Parliament's Finance and Expenditure Committee that the Bank generally worked off the Auckland Council's housing shortage estimate of about 25,000-35,000.
“We pointed out very clearly this is about what the government is doing with the less-than 5% of [Auckland] land that we own,” Adams replied to Twyford.
The government’s primary responsibility was building social houses for those most in need, then making sure there were opportunities for tenants to transition out of social housing.
“We have never pretended that this [policy] is going to be a new house for every Aucklander, and nor, frankly as a government, should it be,” she said.
Meanwhile, on why the government had set $650,000 as its ‘affordable’ limit, Adams said this matched the KiwiSaver HomeStart cap and was “to ensure the policy aligns with the ability to access other government first home-buyer support.”
“Our experience to date suggests that a number will in fact be priced well below this level,” she said.
Of the 1,436 homes already sold at Hobsonville Point “28% of them have been sold at or under $550,000. These range from bedroom apartments to three-bedroom terraced homes,” Adams said.
“What we’re not doing, as part of the Crown building project, is building dreamed-up numbers, at fantasy prices, on land we don’t own, can’t identify, can’t pay for and is magically free of any existing properties.”
Twyford put to her that of the 4,500 new ‘affordable homes’ half had been in the pipeline already. He asked how that was a credible plan, “when Auckland has a shortfall of 40,000 homes; last year only 7,000 new homes were completed, according to Auckland Council; and only 5% of those were affordable?”
The government was showing what it will do on the 5% of Auckland land it owns, Adams said.
“We’ve always said that the largest part of responding to Auckland will come from the 95% owned by the market, which is why this government’s supporting things like the HomeStart scheme, like RMA reform, like the NPS on urban development, like Point England which Labour are opposing.”
Twyford put it to Adams that under the current government, the social housing stock had fallen by 2,500 and the nationwide shortage of homes generally had boomed out to 60,000. Adams said she rejected those comments. The public could trust the government to deliver on the promises it had made, she said.
Meanwhile, Adams separately released figures for where building will take place on Crown land in Auckland over the next three years: