Is the government building 27 houses a day?

NZ State House credit Barfoot & Thompson

Pre-election last year Labour promised to build 100,000 affordable homes that “would not have otherwise have been built without the intervention of the Government.”

In November 2017 Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford told TVNZ’s Q+A he was confident the Government could build more than 27 houses a day, to reach its KiwiBuild goal of 100,000 houses in 10 years. Twyford also said he had asked officials to see whether Labour’s original promise of 1000 houses could be doubled to 2000 extra state houses a year.

No mention of this rash suggestion of doubling annual production in December 2017 when Twyford  reverted back to the promised 100,000 houses and cunningly added that the Government will be buying some new builds off private developersIsn’t it sleight of hand to add houses built by developers into the numbers the government promised, given they were being built anyway without government intervention?

Economist Shamubeel Eaqab thinks so. He co-authored a recent housing report and pointed out that the promised 100,000 Government built houses should be on top of those the private sector was already building. Eaqab also said there was demand for 500,000 new houses and questioned whether Labour’s fiscal responsibility rules would stymie their chances of delivering on the programme and other housing-related infrastructure. Those rules, agreed by Labour before the election, require it to remain in surplus and get debt down to about 20 percent of GDP.

So, where are they at the 100-day mark? Jacinda glossed over it at speed in her 100-day summation, stating they had “started KiwiBuild and banned the sale of state houses“. Twyford had earlier said the government would “stop the mass sell-off of state housing”, but said, “You’d be crazy not to sell the odd one here and there to maintain and upgrade the portfolio.  Besides this government perfecting the art of mixed messages, how does Jacinda like her decision being described as crazy by one of her own?

Where house production is at this point is anyone’s guess because the government’s not saying. Mine would be they are well behind schedule given their silence on the subject and that Twyford’s already fudging the numbers.

-NZ Herald

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