Salvation Army report shows Auckland housing surplus

After years of having a housing shortage, Auckland now technically has a surplus of homes, according to the Salvation Army.

The charity on Wednesday released its annual State of the Nation report, assessing how New Zealand is progressing socially based on a number of indicators such as employment, housing, crime, addiction and gambling.

In the housing section, the report concluded that based on provisional population estimates from Statistics New Zealand (Stats NZ) Auckland's housing shortage "has now, at least statistically, become a housing surplus".

Based on the data, there were around 7,000 surplus houses in Auckland, the charity concluded.

The Salvation Army's conclusion that Auckland had a housing surplus was based on a revision in October last year by Stats NZ of Auckland's estimated population. 

In the correction, the number of people estimated to live in Auckland in 2018 dropped by 77,500, compared to the previous estimate released in late 2018.

"The estimated decrease of 77,500 people from Auckland’s population means that at a rate of 3.09 people per dwelling, around 25,000 fewer new dwellings were required to cater for the population growth in the city between 2013 and 2018," the Salvation Army report said.

"Previous State of the Nation estimates of the housing shortage between 2013 and 2018 suggested a deficit of 18,000 dwellings. With Stats NZ’s revised estimates for Auckland population this deficit of 18,000 units has turned into a surplus of 7,000."

The revelation led the Salvation Army to conclude that the "more accurate housing story in New Zealand is not about increasing housing supply, but more about household income levels and high housing costs".

Despite the report's conclusion, its authors said the figure must be considered provisional and added the caveat that the "actual nature" of the surplus was difficult to completely understand and should be seen in a greater context.

"We do not believe that this means there is suddenly an excess of total supply over demand in Auckland," the report said.

"There is still likely to be an overall housing supply shortage in Auckland. But these revised population figures indicate that new building may now be catching up with population growth in the Auckland region and so this overall deficit in supply has begun to be reduced."

A "clear picture" would emerge when StatsNZ releases its final data from the 2018 census later this year, the Salvation Army said.

The report highlighted that the "New Zealand housing story" can be divided into two parts: the situation in Auckland, and what is going on in the rest of the country.

In Auckland, despite rent coming more in line with wages "tenants are under more stress and facing increasingly unaffordable renting situations", the report concluded.