Dunne suggests housing conference to deal with crisis

Dunne suggests housing conference to deal with crisis

United Future leader Peter Dunne says the main parties need to stop playing the blame game and resolve the housing crisis with real solutions.

Mr Dunne's proposing a National Housing Conference that brings together central and local government, the building industry, the banks and social services.

"The two main parties are playing political sniping games at each other," he says.

"It's easy to point the finger at Auckland Council but right around New Zealand there are people who have housing issues."

Mr Dunne says the housing problem is multi-faceted.

He says it's no good making land available for the development of housing if there aren't the financing packages available to help people get into housing.

"There's a problem about home affordability for young families right across the country, there's the problem of homelessness for those who aren't in the housing market and the risk is we'll do a bit of everything but none of anything."

He hopes a conference would deliver a coordinated, non-political strategy to fix what is a nationwide problem.

But there is one thing opposition parties can agree on, which is that the seemingly-status quo of people living in cars, garages and overcrowded houses needs to change.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei backs the idea of a conference to look at long-term solutions, but believes there are things the Government can do now to help.

Last week the party came out with a policy which would see the dividends and tax paid to the Government by Housing New Zealand returned and used to build more houses.

She says this week's Budget could go some way to fixing the problem, but doesn't believe National has the political will.

"We need a major build investment for Housing NZ both for state housing but also for affordable housing to buy," she says.

"These are options the Government has because they have access to cheap borrowing. They have the skills in Housing NZ to do this work but for some reason National is denying that there is even a housing crisis -- that's why we've seen no action over the years."

Labour leader Andrew Little says work needs to be done now to move people out of their cars and garages into warm and dry houses.

An immediate Government-led work programme is also needed, as well as Housing NZ using some of its dividend to build more houses.

"There is no other answer," he says.

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell says there are a number of factors behind the housing problem which is being met in the interim by a number of measures, including marae opening their doors.

He believes tax incentives need to be given to companies in the regions to take demand away from the larger centres, which would also have a positive effect on employment.

Housing also needs to be looked at in the context of other social issues -- "housing is just one part of it", he says.

Mr Flavell says investors are blocking others out of the market which is forcing people to sleep in cars and garages.

"That's not appropriate, that's not right and that's not what most New Zealanders expect to happen in their country. It's happening right now and we have to do something about it."

In a pre-Budget announcement earlier this month, the Maori Housing Network will receive $12.6 million over four years.

The initiative helps Maori and their whanau into their own houses and home repairs.