Jacinda Ardern giving new housing team 'a bit more time' to fix KiwiBuild

Jacinda Ardern wants new Housing Minister Megan Woods to present ideas on how the KiwiBuild scheme can be saved sooner rather than later.

The Prime Minister's Cabinet reshuffle earlier this week saw Phil Twyford lose the formal role, with the responsibility for housing issues now spread across three ministers - Twyford, who'll look after urban development; newly promoted Kris Faafoi, who'll take on social and public housing; and Dr Woods, who'll take on the difficult job of salvaging KiwiBuild.

The Government promised 100,000 homes in 10 years, starting with 1000 in the first. Just days from the first-year deadline, KiwiBuild has completed only 202 homes - fewer than half which have been bought. 

Ardern defended Twyford's record on Saturday's Newshub Nation.

"We have to acknowledge the housing crisis was an issue too big for one minister to solve," she told host Simon Shepherd.

"I have credited Phil Twyford for the fact that we have quadrupled those state housing numbers, that we've seen 2000 public housing places and that plan around chronic homelessness throughout the country. 

But it is true; KiwiBuild hasn't met his expectation, or ours, but we are not giving up."

A 'reset' is expected in the near future, and may include the Greens' suggestion of a rent-to-own scheme. This would allow people to eventually own homes without needing a massive deposit, and under the Greens' plan, limit payments to 30 percent of household income.

"That was actually one of the things that we said when we set up our Government, when we were talking with our support partners, that we thought that was something worth looking into," said Ardern, adding that not having a deposit is what's holding most first-home buyers back from getting a KiwiBuild home. 

When the scheme was first announced under former leader David Shearer, homes were expected to cost $300,000 each. By the time Labour was in a position to launch the scheme, that base price had doubled - and combined with restrictions on the amount banks can lend to low-deposit buyers, it's perhaps no surprise uptake has been low.

Ardern's not making announcements on changes to the scheme just yet, waiting to see what Dr Woods' "fresh pair of eyes" can come up with.

"We've got a team now of senior ministers - Kris Faafoi, Phil Twyford's still there, bringing the experience that he has, and Megan Woods. And I'm going to give her a bit more time to look at that - not too much more."



Contact Newshub with your story tips: