New Zealand: Housing report paints ‘sobering picture’ of crisis

A report into the state of housing in New Zealand paints a “sobering picture” of the crisis and its effects, particularly on children, Housing Minister Phil Twyford says. Mr Twyford ordered the report late last year, saying the new government needed an up-to-date picture of the housing market after years of spin and denial by the previous National government.The report warned New Zealand was “quickly becoming a society divided by the ownership of housing and its related wealth”. In one key finding, it found up to 90 percent of people seeking emergency shelter were being turned away. The most concerning finding was the population of “hidden homeless” for which there are no official estimates, Mr Twyford said. The report also found an increasing number of elderly were facing housing-related poverty because they still had a mortgage after retiring.

Only one person in 10 getting help needed

The report was authored by economist Shamubeel Eaqub, University of Otago Professor of Public Health Philippa Howden-Chapman and the Salvation Army’s Allan Johnson.

State housing now represented 20 percent of the assets on the government’s books, the report had found, Dr Howden-Chapman said.

“Housing New Zealand is a very valuable asset and the capital involved can be used to use to build more social housing.”

The government had a significant work programme to fix the housing crisis and was committed to doing so, said Mr Twyford.

“We’ve set very ambitious targets. The public want to know we’re being up front with them and that we’re doing our darndest to put a serious dent in this problem.”



National questions report’s conclusions

National’s housing spokesperson Michael Woodhouse said the report was a “succinct summary of the market” but he questioned some of the conclusions drawn by the authors.

“Disappointingly it not only doesn’t offer anything new to the discourse, but it actually highlights where the present government is working against the sort of solutions that could ease the problem that they identify.”

That included slowing down the Special Housing Areas and Māori land reforms, he said.

Parts of the report painted the actions of the National government in a more negative light than warranted, he said, including on housing affordability, and social housing.

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