National accuses Government of pumped-up housing figures, after revelations only half of houses are new

Less than half of the 8000 new public houses Labour claims to have delivered actually add to the national housing stock – the rest were largely bought or leased on the private market, pitting the Government against first-home buyers.

The Prime Minister often points to Labour’s state and transitional house programme and its target of adding 18,000 new public housing places as a fix for the housing crisis.

But figures show that of the 7934 public homes added by the Government, only 3716 are actually “new”.

The remainder were mainly existing homes purchased or leased on the private market

The figures come amid a severe housing crisis with median national house prices now hitting $820,000 and our housing costs among the most overvalued in the developed world.

It has also seen public housing wait lists explode, with thousands of people forced into emergency motel accommodation and countless other families giving up on the home-ownership dream.

National Party housing spokeswoman Nicola Willis said the Government was using “pumped-up” figures and needed to ensure it was not adding to the housing crisis by buying homes from the private market.

“It reduces the number of homes available to private renters and first-home buyers – potentially exacerbating the issue the Government said it would solve.

“The number that matters is how many new houses have been added to New Zealand’s total housing stock. We shouldn’t be misled by pumped-up houses that already existed.

“The reason the Government is pumping up these numbers is actually they’re struggling to get houses built at scale and pace,” Willis said.

The data comes from Willis’ Written Parliamentary Questions to Housing Minister Megan Woods, who said that Willis was either “misrepresenting the facts” or “confused”.

Woods said that under the previous National government, there was an overall net reduction of 1500 state homes. She said that under Labour, there was an expectation that Kāinga Ora and CHPs should build as many houses as possible, reducing the need to buy public houses from the private market.

“The expectations I have set for Kāinga Ora to build as many new houses as possible has been extended to Community Housing Providers,” Woods said.

“The previous National government set no such expectations with Community Housing Providers. This is another part of the housing system that was broken under the previous government and we have had to fix,” she said.

Woods pointed to figures that showed the number of public homes purchased from the private market had decreased over time – especially since the last National government.

In the 2010/11 year, 67 per cent of new public homes were bought by Housing NZ from the private sector – and over the course of that government an average of 30 per cent of new state homes were bought from the private market.

That proportion fell to 21 per cent last year, as the Government’s building programme increased.

Of the public homes bought by community housing providers, 94 per cent were from the private market in 2016/17. That fell to 72.2 per cent last year.

Woods disputed Willis’s allegation that the Government was bidding up the cost of housing, saying that 0.452 per cent of all houses sold in the last year went to Kāinga Ora.

Since it took office, the Government has embarked on a state-house build programme using Kāinga Ora and Community Housing Providers (CHPs) to deliver thousands more public housing places.

Its current target is to have added 18,000 new public and transitional housing places between 2017 and 2024.

The Government added 4980 new-build public housing places through Kāinga Ora as of April, but most of these go to replacing the 3028 homes that were sold, leased or demolished.

Kāinga Ora added to those numbers by purchasing 1165 homes from the private market and leasing 595.

Community housing providers delivered 5124 new state homes as of April, two-thirds of the total number of state homes.

But only 1009 of those homes are actually “new”. Most were leased or purchased from the private market for use as public housing.

The Government has also delivered 755 new transitional housing places – homes for temporary stays of three to six months.

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