Phil Twyford
Photoshopped image Credit: Pixy

During the election campaign, Labour promised to build 10,000 houses a year, all for low-income families who had been ‘locked out’ of the housing market. They made it sound easy as if the previous government had simply been remiss in failing to do anything about the worsening housing crisis. Labour was going to save the day. Labour was going to solve the problem for low-income families.

One year in and the government has now realised how hard it is to do that.

The truth is, as many of us knew during the election campaign, houses cannot be built quickly and cheaply here in New Zealand at all. Drastic changes, such as an overhaul of the Resource Management Act, will be required to do that, and this is very unlikely while Labour is joined at the hip with the Greens.

The problem is that the only people who can afford Kiwibuild houses are people who could afford to buy houses on the open market anyway. Let’s face it, at $650,000, Kiwibuild properties are not exactly cheap. Those that can afford them can probably find better houses elsewhere within the market.

Stuff reports that the scheme is basically a failure. quote.

Kiwibuild’s?”plummeting popularity” could spell out?Kiwibust for the Government’s flagship policy.

There are only 338 pre-qualified Kiwibuild applicants, while contracts for 3375 houses have been signed off by the?Government. It was?forced to push out the?Kiwibuild?ballot deadline in Wanaka, after receiving?just 20 entries for 10 homes. end quote.

Now that the rules have been relaxed around renting out Kiwibuild properties, these houses will be snapped up by buyers in Wanaka who will be able to rent them out on AirBnB. So much for those low-income families, huh? quote.

National Party?housing spokeswoman Judith Collins said it was?time to question its financial viability.

“If Mr Twyford can’t sell?the houses he has bought off the plans, the Government will be forced to pay this money. This will easily blow his $2 billion budget and cause the whole scheme to come crashing down,” Collins said.

The policy?was a “complete shambles”, she said.

“Houses are too expensive and too small. The minister isn’t building enough houses, he isn’t selling enough houses, and those few that are sold aren’t going to the people that need them.” end quote.

Spot on, Judith. Yes, they are too small for the price. Someone who has $650,000 to spend on a house can probably find a larger option somewhere within the general market. This is the trouble. quote.

A?spokesman for Kiwibuild said while 338 people?had completed the ballot process, a further?6648?applicants had begun the pre-qualification process. end quote.

Some of those going through the qualification process will buy houses elsewhere. After all, the qualification process is much the same for buying any house. The buyer simply has to be able to raise the money to buy. quote.

The number of ballot entries varied from place to place.

“We are satisfied with the ballots so far, which have already resulted in the 33 families buying their Kiwibuild home. Another 53 Kiwibuild homes are currently being balloted ? a mix of completed homes and ‘off the plans’ houses that were still being built,” he said. end quote.

The numbers really are very small. A drop in a bucket in fact. Where are the 10,000 houses a year we were promised?

Let’s take a look at the Kiwibuild tracker.

So by the time they have been in government for almost 2 years, they will have built 1000 homes. See what I mean about it being a drop in a bucket? quote.

Economist?Shamubeel?Eaqub?said low ballot figures did not point to any likelihood of loss on unsold homes.?At?worst,?the Government?would?on?sell?a?home at the price it paid for it, and to buyers who may not have?originally?qualified for?Kiwibuild.

Official advice?showed?it was always going to run out of buyers:?building different kinds of homes, to lift home ownership rates was the original goal, he said. end quote.

If they were always going to run out of buyers, why are we doing this? Why put $2 billion of taxpayer’s money into a scheme that nobody wants? quote.

“We don’t build these modest style of homes any more. We tend to build them grand and expensive so they can only be bought by those in the market already, or the rich.” end quote.

Wasn’t that what Kiwibuild was supposed to be all about? Modest housing for low-income families ‘locked out’ of the housing market?

Jacinda says that this government will be measured on their success with housing at the next election. If she is counting on Kiwibuild to get her re-elected, she’d better start looking for another job really fast.