Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The real solution to the housing crisis

Yesterday the government announced its "solution" to the housing crisis - which to the extent it contained any concrete measures at all, seemed to be mostly about making it easier to build shopping malls. Meanwhile, the core problem - developers building high-end rather than affordable homes - remains completely unaddressed (and is simply going to be worsened by giving them mor eland to build more unaffordable homes on).

Over on The Standard, James Henderson points out the obvious: English has a solution right in front of him, but is too ideologically blinkered to see it:

Get the bloody government to do it, Bill. You own plenty of land, you’ve got the capital, and the State isn’t (or shouldn’t be) out to make a quick buck so it can do low-return affordable housing. Just do what the State used to do – come up with a few dozen (energy-efficient, eco-friendly) modular designs and get building.

With efficiencies of scale, you can get the homes built for around $200,000 each (that’s what a basic eco-home from Lockwood costs). Think of the number of houses that a billion a year could build – and that’s chump change to a government that has spent $280 billion in four years. And how many jobs would that create?

Its obvious, its sensible, if run properly its revenue-neutral (in that the government will be selling the houses it builds to first home-buyers and social housing providers). But National's "do nothing, leave the market to sort it out" ideology means English just can't even imagine it - even to address a clear case of market failure.

We need a government which will actually act to address our social problems. National is not and never can be such a government. Time for a change.