Housing job split despite Bill to combine them

Judith Collins says it's bizarre the Government has split the responsibility for housing across three ministers, while at the same time trying to consolidate the agencies into one.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday revealed a Cabinet rejig, with the biggest changes coming in housing. Phil Twyford's housing portfolio was divided in three - he'll retain responsibility for urban development, KiwiBuild will be looked after by Megan Woods as the new Housing Minister, and Kris Faafoi - promoted to Cabinet - will take over public and social housing.

It comes after the Government's flagship KiwiBuild scheme floundered in its first year, falling far short of its target of building 1000 properties for first-home buyers in its first year.

While backing the idea of a separate urban development role, National Party housing spokesperson Collins ripped into the separation of KiwiBuild and public housing on Friday's edition of The AM Show.

"We've got all these ministers now, it's split into three, but at the same time the Government has a Bill going into Parliament called the Kāinga Ora Bill - what that does is it brings Housing NZ, KiwiBuild and the Ministry for Housing and Urban Development all together - so you've got all the agencies together, but all the ministers split. It's bizarre."

Judith Collins.
Judith Collins. Photo credit: The AM Show

Currently at the select committee process, the Kāinga Ora - Homes and Communities Bill would disestablish Housing NZ, bringing state homes under a new umbrella organisation called Kāinga Ora - Homes and Communities, which would also have responsibility for urban development.

According to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development website, Kāinga Ora "will work across the entire housing spectrum to build complete, diverse communities that enable New Zealanders from all backgrounds to have similar opportunities in life". 

It'll not just be the country's biggest landlord - Kāinga Ora will also handle big development projects, which are currently "spread between different parts of central and local government".

"Looking forward to that. It's a good move," said Faafoi, appearing on The AM Show with Collins.

Faafoi said he was looking forward to the challenge of improving New Zealand's public and social housing.

"I grew up in a state house, so my simple job is to make sure the opportunities that I was afforded, my family was afforded, are out there for those families - who like mine when I was growing up - are struggling."

Kris Faafoi.
Kris Faafoi. Photo credit: The AM Show

Since the Labour-NZ First coalition came to power the number of state homes has increased by about 900 to 62,221 as of March 31, according to documents on the Housing NZ website

Between September 2015 and September 2017 it fell by more than 4000. Collins said it was "bollocks" and "rubbish" to say the National-led Government of the day was reducing the number of homes available to low-income families, and Labour shouldn't take credit for the recent rise in stock.

"The houses that now have been built through Housing NZ were all planned and consented and organised through National. These are three-year terms, and stuff gets started beforehand.

"Labour and Phil Twyford used to go on about, 'Oh, you sold all these state houses.' What a load of rubbish - 2700 of them were sold to the Tamaki [Regeneration] project, which have actually rebuilt a whole lot of Tamaki in the Glen Innes area, and then we've also got houses that were sold to community providers.

"Let's just get real here - we need more public housing, but we need housing in community developers as well."

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