Housing

Alliance Party Housing Policy

Preamble

  • Secure housing is critical in achieving stability for our children and creating a sense of community. In a society as wealthy as Aotearoa/New Zealand, there is no need for anyone to be living in unhealthy, inadequate housing or to be paying housing costs that plunge them into poverty.

  • The Labour-Alliance Government of 1999-2002 brought back income-related rents for State housing tenants. This was a significant achievement, but it did not help the majority of low income people who live in private rental accommodation.

  • One in four New Zealanders spend more than 30% of their weekly income on rent. By international standards, this means they are living beyond their means.

  • Low-income people can’t pay the rent without the Accommodation Supplement, but it distorts the rental market by keeping rents artificially high. It is really a landlord supplement.

  • The redistribution of wealth since the 1980s has meant the increasingly affluent middle-class has been buying up the houses of the poorest New Zealanders as an investment. This has pushed up the price of housing, making it impossible for first home buyers to get a place of their own.

  • The rapid decline in home ownership among young people (44% decrease in 25-44 years olds over the past decade) is also linked to the high level of student debt — an average of more than $18,000 for each student.

  • There were more than 12,000 families on the Housing NZ waiting list last June. Of these, 4600 were in desperate need. Inadequate, poorly insulted housing and overcrowding causes preventable diseases among our children, such as meningococcal disease and TB.

  • During the 1990s, nearly 1/3 of our State housing was sold off. We went from 70,000 State houses to just 59,000. More than 4000 houses have been added under Labour, but it is not enough. At least 10,000 new housing units are needed to meet the current housing shortage.

We stand for the following policies

  • Public provision: New Zealand Governments have consistently recognised the need to intervene in housing, especially for the elderly, those with disabilities and young families, because the market will not provide for their needs.

  • State housing: We would fight for a radical increase in the number of state houses being built to ensure adequate supply of quality affordable housing, appropriate to people’s needs. This must be a universal entitlement rather than targeted at those with extreme needs.

  • The Alliance would phase out the accommodation supplement as more State houses were built and State housing assistance was made available to first home buyers. Such assistance would involve low-interest, no-deposit loans with realistic loan limits.

  • We would establish a publicly owned and controlled housing construction agency employing builders and apprentices to build State houses, and to modernise and insulate existing State houses.

  • Improved access to low interest, no-deposit loans for low-income workers and beneficiaries to enable them to buy homes.

  • Capital gains taxes and rent controls. We would not allow property investors to offset losses against taxes, as well as benefiting from untaxed capital gains. At the same time, we would introduce rent controls and stronger tenancy protection to prevent exploitation of the the poor.

  • Assist local bodies: Councils and other agencies aiming to provide pensioner flats and other social housing would be assisted by loans at below market interest rates, but only if rents are set at less than 25% of household income; no more sales of Council housing.