Affordable housing

Central Government puts pressure on councils: make houses cheaper

It’s good that the first reaction to Bill English’s comments about housing affordability is to see Auckland Council squeal

Finance Minister Bill English’s suggestion that councils are increasing poverty though poor planning rules which drive housing costs higher has been labelled simplistic and deceptive by anti-poverty campaigners and town planners.

In another reiteration of the Government’s intention to overhaul the Resource Management Act, Mr English said planning rules under that legislation “are causing poverty” by driving up housing costs through higher land prices.

He said planning rules had until recently made it “pretty much illegal to build a house under half a million dollars in Auckland” and “our planning processes have probably done more to increase income inequality in New Zealand than most other policies”.

Acting Auckland Mayor Penny Hulse said it was the first time she had heard those criticisms from Mr English.

Planning rules that can include seeking permission of over a dozen IWI to build on land that’s twice the price of the house you  intend to build?   I think there is a lot of room for cheaper housing, and the problem is almost exclusively at the feet of local Councils.   Read more »

Pimping the Poor, Ctd

Simon Collins returns to pimping the poor.

Case 1 – the brown poor…who apparently have to live in cars.

Serial breeders moaning about living in ac ar  Photo/ NZ Herald

Serial breeders moaning about living in ac ar Photo/ NZ Herald

The Tuuu family – mum, dad and their six children – have been living in a van for a week because they cannot find a house.

Two of their young children have become sick, and the baby, Maua, has developed a cough.

“It’s very cold at night,” Vaiopa’a Tuuu said. “I’m just so worried. I worry about my kids.”

Tamasailau Tuuu, his wife and their children, aged from 15 to 3-months-old, were doubling up with another couple and their three children in a three-bedroom house after their landlord sold their own rented home in Clendon, South Auckland, two months ago. But their friends asked them to move out.

“She was worried about her tenancy, and the neighbours were complaining about my baby crying at night, and the house was overcrowded and her kids needed their own privacy,” Mrs Tuuu explained.

Mr Tuuu works fulltime at the Zeagold chicken farm in Takanini, but is classed as a casual labourer so his net pay fluctuates between $800 and just $500 a fortnight.

Even with $512 a week in family tax credits and accommodation supplement, that is not enough to pay for a private rental. Average rents in Manurewa have risen in the past year from $382 to $408 a week for a three-bedroom house, and from $436 to $457 for four bedrooms.

So the family applied to Work and Income for social housing and were placed on the waiting list on September 9. Almost a month later, they are still waiting.

and Case 2 – the white poor…who are “trapped and paying half income in rent”:

Waterview couple Iain and Bianca Davies feel trapped in a rented house that chews up almost half of their net income.

They earn $960 a week, including family tax credits for their three children plus an accommodation supplement.

They pay $450 in rent for their four-bedroom home, and count themselves lucky because their landlord has not raised their rent for four years. They even manage to save about $50 a week. But they say the only way they will ever be able to buy their own home is to move out of Auckland.

“The problem is you can only have $16,200 in cash assets to get the accommodation supplement, and that threshold hasn’t changed for years,” said Mr Davies, 31, who helps families with housing problems every day in his work as budget advice manager for CARE Waitakere.

“As soon as you go over that you don’t get an accommodation supplement, so that’s a real poverty trap. You obviously need more than that to buy a house.

If we couldn’t get the accommodation supplement, we’d have to move out of Auckland, or I’d have to work more, or Bianca would have to work.”

Mrs Davies, 36, home-schools their eldest daughter Anwen, 5, and plans to do the same for the two younger ones, Ecclesia, 2, and 1-year-old Floriss.

They buy their food from a local organic food co-operative and “pretty much don’t spend money on extras”. Mrs Davies cuts her own hair and the children’s hair.

“We are fully aware that to buy a house in Auckland you need to be on a double income and earning at least $100,000, so for us it’s not a reality. It will be down the track, up north somewhere, where house prices are just dramatically less.”

I’m becoming increasingly …hmmm, (whats a good word for it?) incensed, infuriated, exasperated!, flabbergasted!  ….WHY are people soooo THICK?  Read more »

Labour’s 100,000 affordable home promise

My readers aren’t buying Labour’s 100,000 fairy tale. Two problems: Where, and when?

Let’s start with where:

Labours promise as hollow as a pipe.

Back in 2006 Helen Clark and her Labour cronies were going to deliver some 3,000 affordable houses at Hobsonville Point. That never eventuated. Now Cunliffe is saying they will deliver 100,000 houses.

If it can’t deliver 3,000 how on earth does it expect to deliver 100,00?

And where will it build them? The reason Auckland (for example) has a a crisis is because there is a lack of land available and the National Government responded with the Special Housing Area fast tracking. That will result in land and sections.

Going back to mid 2013 when the government was building it’s justification for the SHA’s it found that the available supply of sections was just 4,000 in the region.

So just where does Labour think it is going to build 100,000 houses? No matter if it is Auckland or another town or city the fact remains that there is simply not the sections available to build 100,000 houses upon.

Labour’s folly is to have made such a stupid announcement without thinking it through. Is this the gaff of the week?

100,000 take a lot of space. It will need to be set aside, which isn’t a central government issue, but a local one.

Next, when?   Read more »

Mana’s Menu is Pie in the Sky

Mana News

Mana News

I found this image on Mana’s Facebook page

It was fascinating to get some insights into both Mana and the people who vote for it. Based on that News page alone I have come to the following conclusions:

Mana is all about giving low income people rental housing at a ridiculously low rent.

Mana is about feeding ALL children, not just the ones that actually need it.

Mana is not about personal responsibility but about Aunty Government taking care of your responsibilities ie feeding your children.

Mana is not about addressing the core problems by giving a person a fishing rod but is about giving a person a fish, day after day after day that they took off those who made the effort to go fishing.

Mana is not concerned with responsible government such as balancing the books. They want to spend with out considering at all whether

a) It is an asset

b) It is is a liability.

Lets start with their housing policy. ‘Homes for every Kiwi family ‘ such a lovely feel good policy but one that has to be paid for. I have been a Landlord and I can tell you now that 25% of a beneficiaries ‘ income ‘ is not going to cover the mortgage let alone make me any profit. Wait you say, this is about socially responsible housing for the poor. Profit is evil. The government should provide safe and affordable housing. Okay, lets forget about the profit then. I still have to pay rates and insurance and a minimum of 6% of the rent to a Property Manager if the property is to be managed properly and the law followed for both the Landlord and the tenant. Again, 25% of the beneficiaries income is not going to cut it. I seriously doubt that any Property Manager will want 6% of 25% of a beneficiaries income so that will have to be subsidised as well. Another liability. Then there is still that mortgage to service.

Private Landlords already do a good job providing housing. It makes more sense financially, to let them do it and have laws to ensure that the homes meet basic health and safety requirements.If Mana are determined to throw tax payers money at the problem then it would be cheaper to subsidise rents rather than provide the housing themselves.

If the government is to be a landlord renting at such ridiculously low rentals then they are going to get further and further into debt. The debt will grow, it will never be paid off. This is what is called a liability. To make matters worse the cost of a state house in Auckland is going to be 5 or 6 times the cost of one in Opotiki yet the rent will be based on income not area.

Now lets talk about motivation and incentive. Currently if I am on a low income my incentive to improve my situation is that I need more money in order to live in a bigger home in a better suburb. If as my income grows I now pay more for the exact same home in the exact same suburb that already meets my needs am I going to be enthusiastic about increasing my income? Wouldn’t I be silly if I already have a nice warm, dry, new state house ( in a great suburb that others need two jobs to afford the rent in) to increase my income in order to have to pay more?

These policies have not been thought out. Why should beneficiaries ( and lets not kid our selves that this policy is for working people) get a home for life for 25% of their benefit when others have to scrimp and save and work to achieve the same.

What about feeding the kids? No one wants to see children go hungry yet some do. The government has already provided money to pay for their food but if their parents/ caregivers choose to neglect them and spend the money on alcohol, cigarettes and weed then they do go to school hungry.

Yes, this needs to be addressed but do we need to feed all school children in order to help these neglected children? No of course not. This policy is like saying some children need glasses and cannot afford them so the state will provide glasses for all children regardless of whether or not they have poor vision because something must be done! It would be a huge liability and it would take away the responsibility of caregivers to look after their children.

The money is already there for food in most cases. The problem is how the money is spent. Food stamps is one solution but they can be sold for cash and the food still may not make it to those who need it. How about schools identifying children who are arriving without lunch and the government then intervening in a number of ways.

1. Take the money for school provided lunches BEFORE the benefit hits their account unless they mend their ways. Then provide the food to those children. If the caregivers are working then forcibly deduct it from their wages. Bottom line is, feed your children or we will feed them for you with your money.

2. The government simply feeds the children but the family are given a warning. If after a certain amount of warnings and possibly after they have been given budget help they still do not feed their children they are prosecuted or the children are taken off them.This may seem harsh but before benefits poor people did feed their children. My Father didn’t have shoes but his Mum made him lard sandwiches for school. They weren’t Jam like the rich kids had but he did not go hungry. Everyone can afford to make a sandwich for their children even if it is just a butter or a marmite or peanut butter sandwich.

There is no excuse for neglecting your children.

A simple lunch

A simple lunch

English tells Auckland Council to get on with it

You should know when you are not performing when the Finance Minister states it publicly.

Bill English has told media that a despite notifying tranche land for special housing areas – the Council is lacking substantially consenting developments on them.

Hardly a surprise.

Efforts to address Auckland’s chronic housing shortage by building thousands of homes in special housing areas could be hindered by a lack of tradesmen, the industry says.

The comments come as the Government accuses Auckland Council of being too slow to issue consents to get construction under way.

Special housing areas catering for a projected 39,000 future homes are being established in Auckland in a bid to boost supply and curb price inflation, but Finance Minister Bill English said they still hinged on consents.

The Government wanted to see the council follow through on the special housing area announcements and process the required consents to allow construction to start.

“They’ve had pretty positive leadership in this area, but I think they’re yet to show the kind of urgency about really changing how they do business,” English said.

“Their decisions have an impact on the whole economy. They have an impact on thousands of households, so they need to understand that impact and get on with the job.”

Read more »

Why is property around the world so expensive?

The opposition was crowing about an OECD report that said New Zealand has some of the highest housing prices in the world…which for most of New Zealand is a laughable joke. Just yesterday I spoke with a friend who has just sold a 3 bedroom house in Whanganui for $97,000, when the house was bought 5 years ago for $124,000.

The figures are being held up by Auckland real estate and other main cities.

In some places, though, like the United States – property is cheap. In others like New Zealand and London property prices are out of control.

Now officials say that London it is so out whack it is no longer affordable for people on high or low incomes – it’s just not affordable.

In 2010, Nick Williams oversaw construction of luxury apartments at London’s One Hyde Park, where a penthouse valued at 175 million pounds ($297 million) sold last month.

Now he works at the other end of the property ladder, building discounted homes for those shut out of the boom.

Local officials have “realised the housing crisis for people who are neither rich nor poor is massive,” said Williams, operations director at Pocket Living, which uses interest-free credit from the city to build homes selling for about 20 per cent below market value. “There’s a lot of pressure on us to deliver.”

In contrast to the $41.1 billion affordable-housing initiative announced this month by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, London has opted for a piecemeal approach to taming home prices that have spiraled to records. The method has so far failed to meet Mayor Boris Johnson’s own expectations.

“The very fact that people above the median household income in London require subsidised housing is a strong indication of market failure,” said Andrew Heywood, a consultant who has researched housing for the Smith Institute, an organisation that describes its mission as promoting a fairer society.

“The housing market is fundamentally dysfunctional.”

Read more »

Special Housing Areas – old tricks at play

SHA’s being delayed by old council tricks.

Unsurprisingly Len Brown’s Auckland Council Special Housing Office planners have already discovered a way of circumnavigating the short consent processing time frames of the Housing Accord laws enacted by the Government last year.

Under the HASHA (Housing Accord and Special Housing Areas) rules the Council has 60 working days to process a consent. Once a consent application is lodged it must be processed in the statutory time frame. And the reason is obviously because the government wants fast tracked consents and quickly delivered affordable housing projects.

Unlike a standard consent process – where Council uses Section 92 requests to place consents on hold whilst requesting information from applicants – there is no opportunity for the Special Housing Office (SHO).

So what does the Auckland Council SHO do?

Council now wants applicants to undergo a ‘pre-lodgement process’.

And they are quite open about what that includes – review and analysis of the applicants proposal and documentation prior to lodgement so that after lodgement the process becomes a rubber stamping exercise.

A pre-application process is nothing less than a sneaky opportunity to circumnavigate the constraints of the law and it’s a move designed to buy more time, whilst meddling with developers proposals.

Applicants are being told that the Council will not accept their applications until the SHA planners are satisfied with the ‘completeness of applications’.   Read more »

Imagine being able to lease a 3D printer to build your entire house

Affordable homes could also come from the application of 3D printers on a much larger scale.

Kathleen Miles reports

The technology, called Contour Crafting, is already here and can build a 2,500-square-foot home in 20 hours.

The massive robot printer was invented by University of Southern California professor Behrokh Khoshnevis, who says that the technology is so versatile that it can be used to build homes in slums or human habitats on Mars.

The technology is ideal for the world’s slums and areas destroyed by natural disasters, claims Khoshnevis, because the robot’s construction is cheaper, stronger, faster, safer and more eco-friendly than manual construction.

Khoshnevis also says NASA is supportive of using the technology to build lunar habitats, laboratories and roads on the Moon or Mars that could eventually house human life. NASA did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

He points out that construction is far behind manufacturing when it comes to automation.

And instead of churning out the same parts over and over again like we have in traditional manufacturing, you can print out a different 3D house on every run. Just send it different instructions.

The robot can also tile the floors, install plumbing, install electrical wiring and even paint or apply wallpaper.

Khoshnevis disputes concerns about potential job losses from such technology. In fact, he says it will create new jobs that are safer and that will allow women and older workers to participate more in the construction industry.

Khoshnevis is planning to establish a company to commercialize the technology and hopefully make it available for purchase in a few years, he told the USC student newspaper Daily Trojan.

Ultimately, Khoshnevis thinks that Contour Crafting will replace construction as we know it, reduce costs and make construction accessible to anyone.

“Imagine a Contour Crafting machine for lease at you local Home Depot,” the researcher’s site reads.

Recovering from disasters such earthquakes, cyclones or tsunamis could also be dramatically improved.

It may be a little too easy to think of this as far fetched stuff that we won’t see in our life time, but who could have foreseen smart phones when the first man set foot on the moon?

One thing is for sure. 3D printing has the potential to be the next revolution in how mankind gets ahead.

Herald editorial on state house changes

The Herald Editorial discusses the changes the government have made to state housing.

An era ended yesterday. The idea that a state house was awarded to tenants for life has been consigned to history. Legislation that put an end to this idea passed through Parliament late last year, remarkably with little comment. The law came into effect yesterday just as quietly. From now on, tenants will face a review every three years to see whether their income or circumstances have improved.

The absence of much protest suggests the public attitude changed long ago. Yet it shows some courage on the Government’s part. Sooner or later an elderly person is going to be evicted from a house she loves in a neighbourhood where she has lived most of her life, so that a family may be given the three-bedroom home she has occupied alone, and she will be on television.

Normally Housing New Zealand would be able to offer her a smaller but reasonably alternative home. But another historic change that took effect yesterday means the corporation no longer decides who gets a house.

The role has been passed to the Ministry of Social Development, which will assess applicants’ housing need as part of all forms of assistance they require. That makes sense and should make the system fairer.  Read more »

Cunliffe goes over the top and signals Labour will continue to provide for bludgers

Aside from not wanting to let the facts get in the way yet again David Cunliffe is starting to adopt the verbal approach of his chief of staff, we had the Garner interview that was mate this and mate that which from a toff in a Herne Bay mansion is ridiculous.

We now have the totally over the top reaction to what is some pretty minor changes to state house tenancies, reviewing a tenancy in a HNZ house to someone whose luck has improved to free up a house for someone more deserving is now “disgusting”.

Clearly there is some media training going on but with the same results that Phil Goff and David Shearer had…you can’t completely re invent someone.

And what of the policy?

Sounds like pretty sensible stuff to me and no doubt any other working person out there paying private rent.

The changes, coming into effect tomorrow, give community housing providers greater access to money to subsidise people in desperate need of a home.

It means non-government groups can offer income-related rents for tenants for the first time.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said it would allow more diverse housing options for people on the waiting list, and make houses more affordable.

“It means significant savings for those renting the houses, with the state picking up a bigger part of the bill for them,” she said.

The government has set a target for 20 per cent of the country’s social housing to be provided by non-government organisations by 2017. Currently there are about 1200, but Minister for Housing Nick Smith said he wants that number to rise to 12,000.

Many of those new projects will be in West Auckland – where about 1200 of the 5500 people on the national state house waiting list live.  Read more »