Government stalling on housing

Housing has been a major and growing problem for the Government, and their lack of action in trying to stem escalating prices has been one of the biggest legitimate criticisms of them.

And Finance Minister Steven Joyce appears to be stalling further because it is election year.

Stacey Kirk: Facing a firing squad, what’s left to do but stall?

An old advertisement used to run on TV, in which a man facing firing squad asks for a Pixie Caramel as his last request.

In the extended time it takes for him to down that long chew, his shooters fall asleep and he scales a prison wall – evading consequence for as long as he can outrun the inevitable chase that follows.

The man facing firing squad is Finance Minister Steven Joyce, and his Pixie Caramel is a cost-benefit analysis of debt-to-income ratios (DTIs).

That doesn’t look anything like Joyce but you get the picture.

The Reserve Bank wants another clip on its tool belt to apply DTIs – a restriction which would limit how much banks could lend to people, based on their income.

The move is intended to avert a personal debt crisis that could occur if buyers continue to borrow large amounts to get a foothold in a rampant housing market, but become unable to service their debt once interest rates start to rise.

But the collateral damage would likely see a saw cut through the bottom rung of the housing ladder.

Thousands of first home buyers would be priced out of the market, many on incomes where a cap on what they could borrow wouldn’t be able to buy a one-bedroom home in Auckland – a city where $1 million is now the average house price.

“Not in my election year, you don’t,” Finance Minister Steven Joyce has effectively told Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler.

He has manoeuvred to divert the Reserve Bank from undertaking the controversial housing measures in an election year, by asking them to carry out a cost-benefit analysis and public consultation for the measure before he agrees to give them the ability.

The greater good versus political priorities in election year?

And while Joyce’s move may be cynical, it does show a sure-footed approach to political management and exactly why Joyce has doubled repeatedly as National’s go-to campaign manager.

He managed a National disaster in the Northland by-election campaign.

Stuck against a brick wall with a crosshair aimed between his eyes?

In election year, Joyce doesn’t want the headache.

What’s more important, Joyce’s head  or the New Zealand property market?

With a risk of stuffing housing even more and also bombing in the election.

ACT on housing, housing and housing

David Seymour gave his first ‘state of the nation’ speech yesterday. It doesn’t seem to have attracted a lot of media attention, with most political focus on the annual party pilgrimage to Ratana.

It is all about housing and associated issues like the Resource Management Act.

Video:

Stuff: ACT leader David Seymour calls for action on housing affordability

ACT Party leader David Seymour has told the Government to “get some guts” and stop tinkering with housing policy.

Giving his “State of the Nation” speech in Auckland on Monday, Seymour said everyone knew housing had become a problem but nothing had been done.

In the past 30 years the number of homes built per capita had halved and created an asset bubble that was a risk to New Zealand’s economy, he said.

NZ Herald: David Seymour: Kiwi politicians need to have ‘guts’ to address housing affordability

New Zealand’s politicians need to get the “guts” to introduce major reform aimed at tackling housing affordability, ACT Party leader David Seymour says.

…he said ACT would boost housing supply by making it easier to build new homes and shortening approval times.

“We can’t just tinker … we need to act,” he said.

“If ACT holds the balance of power after this year’s election, we’ll be ensuring that the government accepts the housing market is dysfunctional and reforms the fundamentals.”

Speech notes: David Seymour: State of the Nation Speech

ACT’s policy summary:


The House Price Problem

ACT believes that the cost of housing is unacceptably high. Auckland has a significant housing shortage. The price of an average house in Auckland is nearly ten times the income of an average household. Internationally, three times the median income is considered ‘affordable’. The high price of houses means mortgage payments and rents are higher. Household budgets feel the pressure.

The high cost of housing is widening the gap between people who own houses, and who don’t. People who own houses have increasing wealth as house and land values increase. People who don’t are paying more in rent and their income is not keeping pace. It is getting harder for renters to save for a deposit on their house. High rents are a cause of deprivation for low-income families.

The housing shortage is placing costs on taxpayers as well. The high cost of private housing means the Government spends more on social housing through the Income Related Rent subsidy, and funds more support in Accommodation Supplements.

The Resource Management Act:

ACT believes that the major cause of the housing shortage in our cities is the RMA. Council plans and policies under the RMA determine whether enough houses will be built.

The Act gives too much power to councils to restrict development. It requires councils to provide for environmental protection and conduct consultations, but doesn’t require them to consider property rights of owners, economic growth or provide for an adequate supply of housing.

The number of new dwellings consented nationwide each year is still well below its peak of 39,000 in 1974. The Government’s Housing Accords and Special Housing areas have been a band-aid on a broken planning system but they do not address the fact that the RMA in its current form is not fit for purpose to deal with a major housing shortage in our main urban centres.

ACT’s Housing Affordability Policy

ACT believes that the shortage of housing can be filled by private developers, when local and central government get out of the way. We would change the planning law that controls development of cities, and we would give councils the funding incentives to approve more consents. We care about the social impacts of high house prices, and believe the shortage of housing is a problem that can be solved by making our planning and building laws fit for purpose.

Take Cities Out of the Resource Management Act.

ACT would rewrite the Resource Management Act, and introduce new supply-focused urban planning legislation for cities of 100,000 people or more. Urban environments, and areas at the edges of our cities should not be regulated and protected in the same ways as undeveloped natural environments.

ACT’s urban development legislation would prioritise supplying land and infrastructure, in response to demand. We would set price thresholds above which land would be automatically released for development. It would include obligations to set out future infrastructure corridors.

We would make zoning less restrictive, with fewer levels and types of zoning. We would strengthen property rights for existing owners by limiting objection rights to people who are directly affected, rather than allowing third parties to have a say.

Share GST Revenue to Build Infrastructure.

ACT would share a portion of GST revenue collected from the construction of new housing with the local council to incentivise them to approve planning of new homes.

The shared revenue would help cover the cost of infrastructure like roads, water and sewerage which councils must build to support new development. The cost of this infrastructure currently disincentivises approval of new houses and subdivisions.

We also allow councils to use more flexible funding mechanisms for infrastructure. This could include permitting special targeted rates on new developments, to pay for the new infrastructure. Councils need both more flexibility and stronger incentives to plan for more housing.

Compulsory Insurance for New Buildings.

ACT would reduce the cost of compliance for builders, and reduce the financial risk on councils, by removing council building certification, in favour of a compulsory bond or insurance over new buildings. Requiring insurance for the replacement of the building would ensure standards are upheld while reducing the time spent on council inspections and red tape.

Replacing council building certification with compulsory insurance would incentivise insurers to find the most reliable builders and best building supplies to insure. The builders’ incentive would be to get the best premiums and service, by proving they are building high-quality homes. Insurers could sign-off on building materials that are certified overseas, where councils are reluctant to today.

This is an agenda to fundamentally reform the housing market. Our great country deserves nothing less from its politicians.

David Seymour – ACT Leader

Turei on landlord v. tenant rights

In Parliament today Green co-leader Metiria Turei asked a contentious question about landlord family’s rights versus tenant family’s rights.

Metiria Turei: Is the Minister arguing that a landlord’s family has more rights to that home than the tenant’s family, who may well have been living in that home for many years, built their lives around the schools and working community there—that those tenants have fewer rights than those other families?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: Well, we believe in property rights. The landlord owns the property, and if they wish it for themselves or their family then they have to give only 42 days’ notice, so yes.

Either the landlord or the tenant giving notice to vacate a rented property has been fairly common through my lifetime.

I don’t know if it is happening elsewhere but in Dunedin 12 month tenancy agreements have become common, tying them in with annual turnover of student accommodation.

I believe the Greens are pushing for virtually lifetime guarantees for tenants.

Full transcript:


Residential Tenancies (Safe and Secure Rentals) Amendment Bill—Support

5. METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister for Building and Housing: Ka tautoko ia ia taku Pire e hoatu nōhanga wā roa ana, ngita ana, tū roa ana i runga i tana tohutohu ki te hunga hoko whare tuatahi, ko nāianei, “probably not a good time for a young family to buy”; i tētahi whare i Akarana?

[Will he support my bill to provide more secure and stable long-term tenancies, given his recent advice to first-home buyers that now is “probably not a good time for a young family to buy” a house in Auckland?]

Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Housing) on behalf of the Minister for Building and Housing: Although we certainly respect what the member is trying to do as far as tenants’ rights are concerned, we will not be supporting the bill, with the reason being that we are genuinely concerned that it might drive up compliance costs and actually end up harming tenants more than it ends up actually helping. The Government, however, is open to reforms that would encourage longer-term tenancies, and work is under way on setting up a stakeholder group on these very issues.

Metiria Turei: If the Minister is telling first-home buyers now not to buy a house, because homes are too expensive, will he at least support better tenancy rules that will create transparency around rent rises, given that rents are increasing at twice the rate of wages and families cannot afford that level of increase?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: The first part of the member’s statement, I believe, is taken a bit out of context, and we are certainly not telling first-home buyers not to buy. In fact, we are seeing the opposite happen, and even in my own electorate of Hobsonville Point you can see many new homeowners buying there. However, in relation to the transparency and to some of the clauses in the bill, as I say, I think they need careful consideration. We have concerns on this side of the House about unintended consequences and those not being positive for the tenant.

Metiria Turei: If the Minister is encouraging people to stay renting because housing is so expensive to buy, will he give renters more security in their homes by removing the 42-day eviction notice, which is leading to increased levels of homelessness?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: I do not support the first statement by the member, but in relation to the second statement, 90 days is actually the norm and there are exceptions that can be the 42 days. The exceptions to the 90 days are where the landlord’s family or themselves want to move in, or an employee, and then in the cases of where they might have sold. Where it is sold, it is when there is an unconditional agreement actually signed and the new owner wants a vacant property. It is 42 days from then, not from when it goes on the market or anything else, so, actually, 90 days is the norm.

Metiria Turei: Is the Minister arguing that a landlord’s family has more rights to that home than the tenant’s family, who may well have been living in that home for many years, built their lives around the schools and working community there—that those tenants have fewer rights than those other families?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: Well, we believe in property rights. The landlord owns the property, and if they wish it for themselves or their family then they have to give only 42 days’ notice, so yes.

Metiria Turei: Has the Minister talked to the Minister of Education about the effect on children from having to move schools every year because their parents cannot afford stable long-term tenancies in homes because of rent increases and 42-day notices?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: Yes, I have, and actually we agree with, and share, her concerns around those who are moving a lot and not actually getting settled in their communities. That is why we have a number of things that are in place that are leading towards that—whether it is around social housing, whether it is around the work that is going on via schools and social workers in schools and other sorts of programmes. What we are concerned about is that some of the policies that the member is trying to put through, in her bill, potentially could have landlords withdrawing houses for tenants and, as a consequence of that, we think that that of course will mean fewer homes and actually lead to more disadvantage for those very people whom she is trying to help.

Metiria Turei: Does the Minister not understand how irrational it is for the Minister of housing to be telling families not to buy a house because housing is too expensive and yet to stay in rental accommodation when renting is, as she has said, insecure, unstable, and expensive?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: I know it is hard for the member to appreciate, but actually I think that there is probably agreement across the House on what we want to see as the outcomes for these people. What we disagree on is actually the venue and the vehicle for doing that, and the member’s bill, at the very worst, is actually careless and could lead to more actual vulnerability for those very families whom she is trying to help. We have said that we are looking at setting up a stakeholders’ advisory group where it can be carefully considered and we can make sure that we have got the interests of the tenants foremost in those views. We already made changes to the Residential Tenancies Act earlier this year, which I think go some way towards protecting some of the tenants’ rights—

Metiria Turei: No, it doesn’t.

Hon PAULA BENNETT: —well, they do, actually—and that is what we will continue to do, but it will be in a careful and thoughtful manner that actually leads to better outcomes.

Green ‘progressive ownership plan’

Metiria Turei announced some new housing policy for the Greens today that well help up to 10,000 lower income people into home ownership – “home for life” – and will “empower community housing groups’.


Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei has today launched a progressive ownership plan to provide up to 10,000 new homes for lower-income Kiwis to own, and to empower community housing groups with new financing models to help fix the housing crisis.

The plan was launched at the Habitat for Humanity conference in Rotorua, and builds on the Green Party’s Home for Life policy, which was first launched before the last election.

“Our Home for Life plan is about giving more New Zealanders a fair shot at owning their own home – even when the market’s stacked against them,” said Mrs Turei.

“Building more houses that people can actually afford to buy is a critical part of solving the housing crisis.

“Our progressive ownership model will help to make the home ownership dream a reality for people who are locked out of the market right now because they can’t afford a deposit or a normal commercial mortgage.

“We’re also going to make sure the community housing sector has the finance and political support they need to drive their important work.

“Up to 5,000 new, energy efficient homes will also be available for the community housing sector to purchase using progressive ownership.

“Investors who want low-risk, socially responsible investment options, will be able to use their money to help fix the housing crisis – they’ll be able to buy into the building of thousands of affordable houses for Kiwis who need them.

“The Green Party will empower the community housing sector to play a big part in ending the housing crisis, with low-interest loans funded by housing bonds.

“Community housing providers, including iwi, have the skills, experience, and expertise to help more New Zealanders into homes and we will work with them to develop new models of housing for New Zealand,” said Mrs Turei.

Read more about the plan here.


No indication of how this would work alongside Labour’s housing policy, which includes a plan to build 10,000 houses a year for ten years.

Housing in Mount Roskill

It looks like the Mount Roskill by-election campaign may feature in Parliament over the next month. Today Andrew Little put a few local housing questions to John Key.

Building and Housing, Minister—Confidence

1. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in his Minister for Building and Housing, given the nearly 8,000 shortfall in new houses in Auckland in the past year?

Andrew Little: What impact has the $273,000 increase in Mount Roskill house prices over the past 2 years had on young people there hoping to buy their own home?

Andrew Little: Given Quotable Value says that the median Mount Roskill house has increased in value by $2,300 each week for the last 2 years, how are young people meant to save for a deposit for their first home?

Andrew Little: Why, under his Government, are 80 percent of adults under 40 in Mount Roskill renters, with just 20 percent owning their own home? What is there to celebrate about that?

Andrew Little: Talking of special housing areas, how many of the exactly 18 affordable homes that have been built in Auckland special housing areas are in Mount Roskill? Would he be surprised to know that, actually, it is zero?

Key wriggled and diverted with general replies to the first four questions, then suggested Little’s numbers were dodgy on affordable houses.

Then Nick Smith stepped up to hit back at Labour.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Is the Prime Minister aware that the Three Kings Quarry housing project would put 1,300 new homes in the Mt Roskill electorate, a large portion of which would be affordable, and that the lead opponent of these homes over the past 5 years has been the former chair of the local board, Mr Michael Wood, the Labour candidate?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY:  I was aware of that, actually. I was aware of that and, you know, I would not expect anything different, because it is the same Michael Wood who does not believe in dodgy deals, except he has done one with the Greens to get himself over the line—or, at least, he wants to but because his potential leader is so worried, he is offering $1.4 billion worth of light rail, which, actually, the former member for Mt Roskill does not even support.

So where did that come from? Here’s an indication: Three Kings development “rammed through”

Two local board members have accused Environment Minister Nick Smith of “bullying” the community to back a Fletchers proposal for 1500 homes in the old Three Kings quarry.

Puketapapa Local Board deputy chairman Harry Doig and member Michael Wood, a Labour candidate at the last election, said Dr Smith’s decision to join a legal case over the housing development in support of the developer represented “central government bullying and stand-over tactics”.

Labour will have to be careful that some of their campaign strategies don’t backfire.

‘Ending Homelessness’ report

The ‘Ending Homelessness in New Zealand’ report was released yesterday following a ‘cross-party inquiry’ involving Labour, the Greens and the Maori Party.


Executive Summary

The hundreds of submissions and pieces of evidence presented to the Cross-Party Inquiry into Homelessness show that the level of homelessness in New Zealand is larger than any other time in recent memory and is continuing to grow. The housing crisis is causing an extreme level of homelessness, particularly in Auckland, with families forced to live on the streets, in cars, and in garages.

While New Zealand has had an underlying level of homelessness for some time, there has been a substantial increase in recent years driven by a lack of affordable housing. Many of the problems causing homelessness track back over 30 years, but the current Government has exacerbated the situation by allowing the housing crisis to spin out of control. It has the power to fix it if it is prepared to take the necessary steps.

Homelessness is no longer dominated by the stereotypical rough sleeper with mental health issues and is now more often a working family with young children. Māori and Pasifika communities have disproportionately suffered, along with new migrants who also face substantially higher rates of homelessness. Submitters told us that the vulnerability of other groups such as people with disabilities, the rainbow community and people with mental health issues is exacerbated by homelessness.

The small steps taken by the Government so far are insufficient. To address the problem the Government needs to implement a comprehensive set of measures that address the housing crisis at every level. There needs to be a substantial scaling up of resources to tackle homelessness using Housing First and Whānau Ora approaches.

The Government must step in and address the overall housing crisis by cracking down on speculation in the property market and building significantly more affordable houses. An expansion of state and community housing to provide long term affordable rental accommodation is vital. Without an increase in permanent housing for the homeless to go into, the issue will not ultimately be addressed. We have also identified through the inquiry, a range of other practical measures to reduce homelessness. These steps make up the 20 recommendations of our Inquiry.

Fixing homelessness won’t be cheap. The proposals in this report, when fully adopted, would require significant investment. However this needs to be considered against the cost of doing nothing. Submitters told us it costs around $65,000 to keep a person homeless. When we have 4,200 people without shelter that is over $250 million a year homelessness is costing us.

To deliver all of this, the Government must develop a nationwide strategy to end homelessness. This needs to set out exactly what it will deliver and how to end the chronic levels of homelessness that New Zealand is now facing.

The submissions to the Inquiry showed that this issue is now more important than ever, and we call on the Government to act boldly and urgently.

Summary of Recommendations

1. Roll out Housing First as the primary response to severe homelessness.

2. Increase the State housing stock.

3. A systemic fix to the housing crisis: Build more affordable houses, reduce the cost of building a home, and tackle speculation in the property market.

4. Create a national strategy to end homelessness.

5. Support Kāinga Whenua housing and develop greater flexibility to recognise multiple owned property title.

6. Long term funding for Community Housing Providers to build houses.

7. Retain the Official Statistics New Zealand definition of homelessness and collect regular data on homelessness.

8. Expand housing for the elderly.

9. Income related rent subsidies for existing community housing tenants.

10. Greater security of tenure for renters.

11. Review the Accommodation Supplement.

12. Use vacant state housing stock for emergency housing.

13. Homes for people leaving state care.

14. Information sharing between agencies addressing homelessness.

15. Work with Pasifika aiga to create Pasifika homelessness services.

16. Permanently remove the Housing New Zealand dividend.

17. More support for homelessness workers.

18. Expand agencies able to undertake needs assessments and refer tenants to emergency housing. 19. Improve the quality of rental housing.

20. Increase youth housing and services.

Full Report: Ending Homelessness in New Zealand  (PDF)

Poll on issues and immigration

IPSOS immigration poll:

Right-wing voters and long-term immigrants are less pro-immigration. Recent, pro-immigration people are more likely to be from India, whereas the long-term migrants who are mainly from the UK are now less favourable towards immigration.

Curia has a summary of an Ipsos poll on immigration:

Most important issues:

ipsospollnzissues

On immigration:

ipsospollnzimmigration

Also (via Curia):

  • A net 52% agree immigration should be targeted at professions with shortages
  • A net 48% say refugees can become highly valued contributors to society
  • A net 35% say immigration has made NZ a more interesting place to live
  • A net 28% say immigration is good for the economy
  • A net 30% agree immigration has placed too much pressure on public services
  • A net 15% are confident most refugees will integrate
  • A net 12% say immigration has made it harder for those here to get jobs
  • A net 10% say there are too many immigrants in NZ
  • A net 10% say terrorists who pretend to be refugees will enter NZ
  • A net 7% say immigrants are often better workers than those already here
  • A net -15% want an increase in the number of refugees
  • A net -35% say the number of immigrants who can move here should increase
  • A net -40% want no refugees accepted at all

There were 16545 people surveyed in 23 countries, including New Zealand.

• The New Zealand data was collected via one single survey of 505 adults. Some questions were omitted and some added, to ensure better suitability for the New Zealand context.

That’s a relatively small sample size.

The IPSOS survey summaries:

  • Housing affordability, cost of living and poverty concern the most New Zealanders, but age and political views influence people’s concerns.
  • Older people are more likely to say that immigration to New Zealand has increased a lot.
  • New Zealanders are much more likely to say immigration has had a positive impact.
  • New Zealand-born people have a more negative view of immigration than immigrants.
  • New Zealanders are generally positive about immigrants, but 53% feel they are pressuring public services and 54% do not want an increase in immigration numbers.
  • New Zealanders are less likely than most to feel that there are too many immigrants, but 53% agree that they are causing pressure.
  • Although 45% of New Zealanders feel that immigration has made it difficult to get jobs, New Zealanders are the most likely to feel that immigration has been good for the economy.
  • New Zealanders are the most likely to say immigrants with higher education should be given priority to fill skill shortages and that they make New Zealand a more interesting place to live.
  • Seasoned travellers and immigrants are more open and positive towards immigrants, while those New Zealandborn and poorly travelled are more ‘anti’.
  • Right-wing voters and long-term immigrants are less pro-immigration. Recent, pro-immigration people are more likely to be from India, whereas the long-term migrants who are mainly from the UK are now less favourable towards immigration.
  • While the majority of New Zealanders believe refugees can integrate well and contribute a lot, there is a concern about terrorism and little appetite for increasing the refugee intake.
  • New Zealanders are much less likely than those in the other countries surveyed to say ‘close our borders entirely’.
  • New Zealanders are much less likely to say terrorists pretending to be refugees will enter the country to cause havoc.
  • New Zealanders tend to be more confident about refugees’ ability to integrate.
  • Only 14% of New Zealanders knew the correct number of refugees allowed into NZ each year. 22% overestimated the number.
  • Those who over-estimate the size of the NZ refugee intake have a more negative view of refugees’ ability to contribute to society and likelihood to be terrorists.
    Those who over-estimate the size of the NZ refugee intake have a more negative view of refugees’ ability to integrate into NZ society and are more likely to feel we should stop admitting ALL refugees.
  • Most in EU countries think Britain was wrong to leave, for both Britain and the EU. New Zealanders are less concerned and Australians even less so.
  • New Zealanders are the most concerned about the effects on Britain than any other non-EU country surveyed, and are more concerned than Australians.
  • New Zealanders are the most concerned about the effects on the EU than any other non-EU country surveyed, and are more certain than Australians.
  • New Zealanders are more saddened and worried about future arising from the Brexit vote than Australians, who are also less likely to have an opinion.
  • 27% of New Zealanders believe that the Brexit vote will be bad for the New Zealand economy.
  • New Zealanders are more likely than those in EU countries themselves to think that the EU’s influence on the world stage will be reduced. Australians are less concerned.
  • Of all the non-EU countries surveyed, New Zealanders were the most likely to feel that both the UK and EU will become weaker post-Brexit.
  • The majority of New Zealanders felt that both the UK and the EU will become more divided and less integrated over time.

I think the poll questions on Brexit have little value here. My guess is that most New Zealanders will have only a vague knowledge at best of what Brexit was about, and our opinion is pointless anyway.

Curia has a link to the full poll details at  Ipsos poll on immigration

City survey – housing

The latest ‘best city’ survey – see Dunedin, Wellington ‘best cities to live in’ – howed that surprisingly low numbers of people thought their city had a poor or very poor quality of life, ranging from 2% in Dunedin and Wellington to 4% in Auckland and Christchurch.

There were both unsurprising and surprising responses on one of the big issues (going by media coverage) – housing.

Stuff reports: Dunedin is the best NZ city to live in – just

While four in five urban Kiwis say they have a good quality of life, less than half consider their housing situation to be affordable.

Housing was one of the main reasons cited by people who said they had a poor quality of life, along with financial anxiety, poor health, and bad job prospects.

Unsurprisingly, Aucklanders were the worst hit, with just 41 per cent considering their housing situation affordable, less than the 42 per cent who said it was unaffordable.

That’s still an even split – probably not much different to the split between house owners and renters.

Those in Dunedin were the most likely to find their housing situation affordable, at 69 per cent.

People at the lower end of the financial scale will always find it difficult to afford housing, whether renting or owning.

It’s still possible to find houses in Dunedin for under $200k and $300k can by some fairly good properties.

Despite these housing issues life satisfaction remained quite high. Research leader David Stuart of the Wellington City Council was somewhat surprised by this.

“It’s a bit of a surprise that you can be facing pressure in one area in your life but still have other things that are working really well for you,” Stuart said.

“Housing is a driver of quality of life, but the strongest driver was a category of responses that would fit more into emotional and physical health.”

Sure many of us may like bigger flasher houses in nice quiet neighbourhoods with great views and handy to everything, but most people can get by with housing, whether renting or owning.

Some people really struggle with housing, probably quite a few in places like Auckland and Queenstown, but those problems are probably amplified somewhat by politicians with agendas and media seeking headlines.

They survey says that in most of the major cities in New Zealand from 1 in 25 to 1 in 50 people think that their city lifestyle is poor or very poor.

Most of us wouldn’t mind winning Lotto but I think most of us also have realistic expectations.

The Nation – housing again

Today on The Nation:

We take a look at the housing crisis. talks to about whether the Govt’s doing enough on social housing.

As Akl’s average house price breaks the million dollar barrier how do we hit the brakes? and John Bolton weigh in.

, , and are on the panel, with and on the Twitter panel

Migration is cyclical. Unaffordable prices cyclical AND structural.

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Social housing stock in New Zealand

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Affordability has been worsening for decades.

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Inequality and housing

As house prices (and rental rates) keep rising it makes things tougher on people on modest incomes whop want to buy their first home.

And it especially makes things tough on poorer people, many of whom will never be able to own their own home, who have to spend more and more of their meagre money to house themselves and their family.

Stuff: Real cost of runaway housing market comes home to roost

A new report (Household Incomes Report, prepared by the Ministry of Social Development) measuring income inequality in New Zealand paints a clear picture of who is shouldering the biggest burden – the poorest households, which are now spending more than half their income on housing.

Housing costs compared to household income rose from 29 per cent in 2013, to 49 per cent.

That’s a huge jump and will be causing a lot of hardship.

Its other findings include that the number of children experiencing material hardship – living in a cold, damp house, or owning only one pair of shoes – rose from 145,000 to 155,000.  

Around 85,000 children were in “severe” hardship, up 5000.

I’m please to see them using terms for measured hardship and severe hardship rather than the overused and misused term poverty.

So why was the Government hailing it as a good news story? It’s all about how you spin it of course – the numbers show that on a pure percentage basis, child poverty rates were down from 29 per cent in 2014 to 28 per cent last year.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley used the findings to declare “there is no rise in poverty and material hardship trends for children, which the report says are flat or falling”.

No wonder people always say about politics that there are three kinds of lies – lies, damn lies and statistics.

Housing is just one (significant) part of a bigger problem – growing inequality, and in  in particular growing hardship for a large number of people. Not as large number as the poverty pedlars pronounce, but too many.

This is something the Government should be showing that it acknowledges as a priority problem, and they should be doing something demonstrable about it rather than resorting to statistical spin.

Ministry of Social Development 2016 Household Incomes Report and the companion report using Non-income Measures (the NIMs Report):