An Instant Solution To The Housing Crisis?

Too many people do not have a home to call their own simply because they can’t afford one. Something needs to be done now. We can’t wait for new houses to be built. Besides, it is generally acknowledged that the problem is not a shortage of houses, but a shortage of affordable houses. New housing developments to date have only provided a fraction of the affordable houses needed.

The quickest and easiest fix to the affordable housing crisis might be for the government to take a leaf out of the land bankers’ book and start their own land bank, with a twist – a public land bank with houses on it. Continue reading

Everyone’s House Is Their Castle

Housing is set to be an election issue. Rightly so. Far too many people are without a warm dry home. Far too many people pay exorbitant rents. Taxpayers are forced to stump up a large portion of this rent for people whose employers do not see it as their responsibility to pay their workers a wage that would enable them to afford the extortionate rent charged by their landlords.

Only a few people are able to afford buy a home to live in. Most of those people live in the less populated/popular areas where sanity has prevailed and houses are still regarded as somewhere to live, not an easy way to make a quick buck.

We all get the problem, but this election let’s not just talk about how many new houses the government – or whoever they delegate the job to – should build over the next ten years. Whatever the amount, if nothing else changes it won’t be nearly enough. Continue reading

Affordable Housing – There’s No Nice Way To Do It

The old saying “you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs” pretty much sums up the affordable housing debate. There is no ‘nice’ way to make housing affordable again.

Higher density housing is a red herring. Anyone thinking of going down that path should have to spend a month on some of the English high rise housing estates or the high rise ‘affordable’ housing on the outskirts of most major cities of the world. High rise is best left to the wealthy who want to live in the inner city to make the most of the vibrant nightlife, cafés and restaurants, and harbour views. They can afford safe, well-built, well-maintained apartments.

House prices are high. Wages are low. It just doesn’t work, no matter how you spin it. To get affordable housing, the prices of houses will have to drop, and drop by a lot. Continue reading

Likely Outcome Of Outcomes Model: Social Disaster

Our social services focused government departments have recently moved to an Outcomes Model. The Outcomes Model is supposed to result in improved efficiency and greater accountability from service providers. This should mean the government gets better value for its investment. Sounds good in theory. However, in the context of our neoliberal political environment, the Outcomes Model has the potential for social disaster.

Neoliberal governments are wedded to austerity and desperate to reduce social spending. It is couched in other terms, but the purpose for the change to the Outcomes Model is clear; the desired outcome is that people no longer use social services. Continue reading

Act Against Corporate Welfare, Rescue The Common Good

Corporate welfare exists in secret trusts and corporations that play one country’s tax laws off against another’s to avoid paying taxes whilst heavying governments for handouts. Corporate welfare exists in misnamed ‘trade’ treaties, like the TPP, that allow overseas corporations to dispute the decisions of elected governments and embed corporate money spinners like the extension of copyright and patent law worldwide.

Corporate welfare fuels the “relentless machine of corporate profit.” And corporate welfare subverts the common good. Continue reading

Who Should Be Allowed to Buy Property in New Zealand?

Not too long ago houses were for living in and property was for doing something productive with. But these days, property is seen as something to make money out of just by owning for a while then selling.

It is a problem. Every time someone buys a house they don’t intend to live in, land they don’t intend to farm, or a commercial premise they don’t intend to run a business in, they make it that much harder for people who need a home, want to be farmers or to run their own business. Continue reading

Housing 101 – Back to Basics

The United Nations Charter states in article 25 of its Universal Declaration of Human Rights that “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care and necessary social services”.

Any discussion on housing needs to start from the premise that adequate housing has been identified as a basic human right. Housing, whether rented or owned, needs to be affordable for everyone. Houses are for people to live in, to provide shelter, not a way to make money. Continue reading

What Exactly Is Our Housing Problem?

Does New Zealand have a housing problem that is caused by too many people and not enough houses? Dunedin Methodist Mission CEO Laura Black sees it differently. She sees our problem not as a shortage of houses but as a mismatch between where the affordable houses are and where the people wanting a house live. Continue reading

Everyone is Entitled to a Place to Call ‘Home’

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! Continue reading