Housing plans lack cohesion - Dunne

Auckland's North Shore (file)
Auckland's North Shore (file)

Telling young families to give up on home ownership challenges the very ethos New Zealand was founded on, says United Future leader Peter Dunne.

Yesterday Mr Dunne proposed a national housing conference made up of central and local government, banks, social housing providers and builders to figure out how to fix the housing crisis.

In recent years house prices -- particularly in Auckland -- have ballooned, with rents starting to follow and homelessness on the rise.

Figures from Statistics New Zealand's Household Economic Survey show home ownership rates since 2007 have dropped at all income levels, bar the top 10 percent. The Auckland City Mission says it is on course to give out 50 percent more food parcels in 2016 than last year.

Mr Dunne says housing is now in crisis because several different issues have come to the forefront at the same time.

"You've got Auckland, you've got affordability for young families and young couples to get into housing, and then you've got the whole social housing issue," he told Paul Henry this morning.

"We're looking at bits and pieces of the argument -- no one's looking at the total picture."

National and Labour have found common ground on opening up more land outside Auckland's urban limits, but Mr Dunne says without having Auckland Council, banks and builders on board, nothing useful will happen.

"It's pointless building houses if no one can buy them. It's pointless saying we're prepared to fund houses if councils aren't releasing the land on which to build them. The problem is everyone's doing their own thing -- no one's actually seeing how they all interrelate."

A big hurdle is the National Party, which refuses to acknowledge there is a problem.

"The idea that [the housing crisis] suddenly happened in May 2016 is a figment of some people's imagination," Housing Minister Nick Smith said yesterday, who has in the past called housing affordability a "challenge", but not a crisis.

"These are long-term challenges."

Mr Dunne agrees the crisis hasn't emerged overnight, but says the need to tackle the problem is growing.

"It's not an immediate, urgent, sudden problem -- it's been there for years -- but we can't let all these issues just continue to fester unresolved."

A recent investigation by The Nation found scores of families in Auckland living in cars, while special housing areas set up by the Government and Auckland Council are being left empty as owners reap the capital gains.

The average price of a home in Auckland is now $942,760 according to QV, up 72 percent since the pre-global financial crisis peak.

"We're actually saying to young families, maybe home ownership isn't going to be achievable for you," says Mr Dunne. "I think that's the whole ethos New Zealand was founded on being challenged."

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