Monday, August 10, 2020

The housing policy we need

For years we've had a housing crisis in New Zealand, driven by immigration-driven population growth and the market refusing to build enough houses (and enough of the right sort of houses) to meet it. As a result, people can't get homes, while Boomer landlords leech away their income and parasitical property managers gouge as much as they can. The housing crisis is also an inequality crisis, with those who got on the property ladder twenty years ago (an especially in Auckland) seeing their paper wealth increase, while those who didn't are locked into penury and prevented from saving by spiralling rents. The solution to all this is simple: build more state houses. Building more houses removes the shortage and crashes the price so they're affordable. Making a high proportion of these houses state or community houses cuts out private landlords and their property manager cossacks, and sets higher standards for the market as a whole. And a price-crash due to increased supply burns the paper wealth of the Boomers, eliminating their ability to leverage that wealth to make more.

And now, the Greens are offering that. The new housing policy they launched yesterday commits the government to building enough state houses to eliminate the waiting list in five years, and to backing community and iwi housing to drive private landlords out of the market. But more importantly, it would explicitly set an affordability target for Kāinga Ora to manage the housing supply, effectively telling it to build more houses whenever prices rise. In other words, a permanent check on shortage-driven bubbles. There's a lot of other stuff in there to like: higher standards for rental properties, licensing of property managers, strengthening the building code so new homes are fit for the future. But most importantly, they've got the big stuff right.

Will Labour agree to it if they're forced into coalition? The problem here is that Labour MPs own a lot of houses, and so are part of the problem. But at the end of the day, its the numbers in Parliament that will count. So if you're young and you hate your landlord or your property manager, vote Green.