The Alliance believes that to solve the housing crisis we need a radical rethink on the role of housing. It sounds self evident but we need to start from the premise that a house is for people to live in, a home, and everyone is entitled to one.
We need to embrace article 25 of the United Nations Declaration of Universal Rights which lists housing as a basic right. If we do this as a country, making sure everyone has warm dry affordable housing must become one of the main jobs for every government.
This may be painful for some. Houses tend to be seen as a safe investment, a good way to make money, particularly in the deregulated environment of the past 30 odd years. During this time government involvement in housing has been frowned upon. “The market will provide,” we were told. Quite clearly it hasn’t. Time to move on!
A lot of people have made, and continue to make, a lot of money out of buying and selling real estate. Institutional investors such as pension funds, as well as private individuals. Speculation, though lucrative for a few, has been the main culprit behind the soaring house prices that have made houses too expensive for people who actually want to live in them.
Speculators will have to be reined in if the goal of a home for everyone is to be achieved. The government could try to do this by appealing to their better nature: “It’s mean to buy another house if you already own twenty and lots of people don’t even have one. It’s even meaner to sell it again as soon as the price goes up and pocket the money. Especially if you are selling it to someone else who is just going to do the same thing.”
But realistically, there is only one way to do this – through taxation, an anathema to today’s National Party. Will they hold their noses and bring in a capital gains tax or any other measures that would curb property speculation and give first homeowners dibs on any low to medium priced houses? It’s unlikely.
Under the current government the best hope for those not blessed with wealthy relatives to pay the deposit, is probably to win Lotto. And the odds of that happening are, we are told, about the same as being attacked by a shark.
Or, would be homeowners could get political. There is an election next year. People who believe that everyone is entitled to a place to call home should vote for a party such as the Alliance, that feels the same way and has the policies to make it happen if given half a chance.