National's Nicola Willis in disbelief as Megan Woods reveals results of Progressive Homeownership Scheme

National's housing spokesperson Nicola Willis is in disbelief the Government has helped just 12 families into homes as part of the $400 million Progressive Homeownership Scheme launched in July last year. 

"It is embarrassing. It's a total failure that the Government announced a rent-to-buy scheme in 2017 in the Prime Minister's speech from the throne, and yet here we are three-and-a-half years later and only 12 places have been delivered," Willis told Newshub. 

"It's a scandal, really - an utter embarrassment. The fact that the Housing Minister is showing off about it beggars belief. It makes me think she's completely out of touch with just how bad housing issues are in the community."

Housing Minister Megan Woods posted a video on Twitter hailing the scheme as a success, saying there are more in the pipeline. She said it will get between 1500 and 4000 Kiwi families locked out of the housing market into their own homes. 

"I think one of the things worth remembering is that progressive homeownership isn't like going and buying a house through a real estate agent. It is a journey," Dr Woods says in the video.   

"It involves a community housing provider like the Housing Foundation working intensively with the family in order to take them on that journey and get in a position where they do have that deposit, where they can enter that pathway to homeownership."

The Government launched the Progressive Homeownership Scheme under the umbrella of KiwiBuild, Labour's flagship housing policy that went through several changes, after it failed to deliver on its targets. The underwriting as part of KiwiBuild still exists

Progressive homeownership enables a family to partner with a charitable provider, such as the Housing Foundation, to help them become homeowners by sharing the financial burden. 

Types of progressive home ownership deals are already available in New Zealand, and those available to access the Government's fund are shared ownership, rent-to-buy, and leasehold.

The Government also announced it has delivered 1000 more transitional housing places, with over 40 percent of them newly built homes. There are 22,409 people on the public housing waiting list. 

The additional 1000 transitional housing places - 605 for families with children - bring the total number to 3972, compared with 2113 in November 2017. The Government says it's on track to deliver more than 18,000 public and transitional housing places by 2024. 

"Reducing the numbers on the register shouldn't rely solely on public housing; if more affordable housing is being built, this will open up more opportunities for both home ownership and rentals," Dr Woods told Newshub. 

Willis says it's not enough. 

"Unfortunately it's a drop in the bucket of housing demand. There are now more than 22,000 people on the public housing waitlist. That's around four times what it was when Labour came to Government," she told Newshub. 

"The reality is people are having to line up for state homes because they've been squeezed out of the private rental market by huge house price increases.

"The Government needs to get on top of that issue if they are going to resolve the massive housing issues we're seeing across the board. That means making it easier to build new houses."

The Government is trying to fix the housing crisis by replacing the Resource Management Act (RMA), the complex planning law blamed for holding back new developments. But with over 800 pages to be replaced, it won't be passed until 2022.

The National Policy Statement on Urban Development will also require councils to reduce planning constraints and plan for growth, allowing for greater intensification in cities. 

Willis says it will take too long. 

"It won't have any impact until 2024. That is far too long to wait. We are facing a housing emergency. Right now urgent measures are needed. National has said we will support those measures and yet the Government is wasting time trumpeting 12 places."

Dr Woods said the Government will be making an announcement in the coming weeks on how to both reduce speculative demand on housing and enable more supply to be built.

"The housing crisis will take more time to fix and we are determined to do it."