Best idea for some time: let’s stop building affordable homes in Auckland

Is it just me, or is anyone else heartily sick of first-home buyers whingeing about expensive Auckland houses?

I haven’t always felt like this. There was a time when they had my sympathy.

When they complained the only suburbs they could afford lay a 1 hour drive from the city, I felt their pain. I did that drive for three years.

When they got angry at a baby boomer Australian newspaper columnist who said they could afford homes if they’d just give up their $22 smashed avocado on toast weekend brunches, I defended them – $22 a week doesn’t cover a mortgage.

But now I have a sneaking suspicion the very loudest complainers are actually a bunch of entitled brats.

Yes, we do have a housing problem. The long-awaited government Home Affordability Measure released this week revealed 86 per cent of Auckland first home buyers can’t afford a mortgage.

That wasn’t a surprise.

What was a surprise in the figures, though, was how long we’ve had a problem, with hardly anyone complaining.

All the way back in March 2003, 74 per cent of Auckland buyers already couldn’t afford a home.

Back then there were a smattering of news stories, and even the odd political speech, but nothing like the noise that you’d expect three-quarters of the city’s entry level buyers to make.

Back then it hadn’t been politicised and turned into a Media party/Left wing stick to beat us all with.

Instead of scrambling to build affordable houses for people to buy, we should be building houses for people who will never be able to buy.

Sydney has built more than 800 affordable houses and apartments in the city centre.
To do that, we have to have a grown up conversation about the fact houses in central Auckland will probably – short of a massive economic upset – never be affordable again. They’ll never go back to the prices my grandparents paid for their Meadowbank brick and tile in the 70s.

If we accept that, we accept that some people can’t live in the city without some form of help. And that includes our essential workers on fixed government incomes: police officers, teachers, nurses.

Sydney’s ahead of us on this.

It has already built more than 800 affordable houses and apartments in the city centre for essential workers who would never afford to live in the city otherwise.

The city hasn’t paid for it. It has forced wealthy developers to cough up: they either have to donate money or houses every time they build a new development.

Those units are donated to a social housing provider who charges rent the tenant can afford.

It’s a smart idea that’s getting people who really need housing help closer to their jobs.

It’s not pandering to the noisy who probably will be able to buy a house one day.

And it’s accepting a fact, which is Auckland is now a global city and first-home buyers should not expect to buy a house within half an hour of the CBD.

The only problem remains that the left and Media parties (especially the NZ Herald) are deeply committed to the narrative of affordable homes.

And councils around the country are similarly snookered where they feel they have to create “affordable” enclaves in areas where this is economically impossible.


– Heather dpA, NZ Herald

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