Our Beehive Bulletin …
While Housing Minister Megan Woods was being grilled at Question Time in Parliament about the government’s performance in her portfolio domain, the Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito Williams Sio, was announcing new initiatives to provide housing.
Attorney-General David Parker, meanwhile, was announcing the appointments of three new District Court Judges, all of them in the Auckland region.
The appointees are
Kirsten Lummis, lawyer of Auckland – appointed as a District Court Judge with jury jurisdiction to be based in Auckland.
Nick Webby, lawyer of Auckland – appointed as a District Court Judge with jury jurisdiction to be based in Manukau.
Ophir Cassidy, a lawyer of Auckland – appointed as a District Court Judge to the Waitakere District Court with a general jurisdiction warrant to sit as Youth Court Judge and to lead the Rangatahi Courts at both Hoani Waititi and Orakei Marae.
The housing announcement for Pacific people from Sio includes:
- opening the Pacific Financial Capability Grant funding to enable Pacific organisations to deliver financial capability programmes, tools and resources to Pacific communities; and
- opening the tender process to identify a provider to support Pacific organisations to become registered Community Housing Providers.
Budget 2020 delivered a package of up to $41.315 million to be distributed by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP).
Applications for the Financial Capability Grants and tender process will close in early April, with an evaluation process to follow before successful providers are announced in mid-2021.
“Affordable, quality housing is absolutely critical to the health and wellbeing of our Pacific families and communities. The Government believes everyone should have fair accessibility to home ownership in New Zealand,” says Aupito William Sio.
Visit www.mpp.govt.nz/ for more information.
Housing was high on National’s political agenda, too, and Nicola Willis this week has been questioning Housing Minister Megan Woods about progress in meting the government’s targets.
She asked if Woods stood by her statement that the government will continue to build more public houses (no, we don’t think this is a reference to “pubs”) “and make sure people move into them, and off the Public Housing Register as quickly as possible”. If so, what change has there been in the public housing register between November 2017 and today?
Woods answer to the first part of the question was a simple “yes”.
The answer to the second part required Willis (and anyone else who was listening) to pay close attention while Woods harked back to 2009 and projected forwards to 2024.
But when it came to the change since November 2017 – well, it seems the Minister (and no-one else) knows for sure.
“When we came into Government, we stopped the mass sell-off of State houses by the previous Government, which saw an overall reduction in State housing stock of 6,000.
“Even taking into account transfers to community housing providers under the previous Government, there was a net reduction in public housing of more than 1,100 houses between 2009 and 2017.
“Not only did we stop the sell-off but we began the largest public housing build programme in a generation, and I’m proud of the progress that we’re making.
“Our pipeline will see 8,350 additional public and transitional housing places by 2024.
“Just to clarify, that is 18,350 after we have accounted for demolitions. Currently, there are 2,195 State houses under construction, while the community housing sector has planned another 526.
“This is in stark contrast from a decade ago, in 2011, when there were just 123 new State houses built, while over 514 were sold off or demolished.”
And then (drum roll, please):
“In answer to the second part of the question, our Government has made changes to ensure the register reflects the true state of housing need in New Zealand.”
Willis obviously had hard data in mind and asked if Woods could confirm that the State house waiting list has increased from 6,182 in December 2017 to 22,409 as of November 2020 – oh, and would she commit to a date by which she will reduce the public waiting list back to pre-2017 levels?
Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: In regard to the first part of the question, yes, I can confirm that is the number. In answer to the second part of the question, what I can commit to all New Zealanders is we won’t do what the previous Government did. So, when there was a review in 2011 of how to assess people’s eligibility for a State house—[Interruption]—the waiting list was 8,886
After the Speaker called for the House to be quiet, Woods continued:
Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: So what I can commit to all New Zealanders was we will not repeat what we saw from the previous Government, which is what we saw in 2011, when there was a review of eligibility for public housing when there was a waiting list of 8,886. And, despite the flogging off of houses in that period of time, the next year, in June 2012, somehow magically that number had reduced to 4,371. We are a Government that will have a waiting list that truly reflects housing need and not play games to fix the numbers.
Willis then asked if Woods stood by her claim that the Government has stopped selling State houses; and, if so, how did she reconcile that with her answer to a written question showing Kāinga Ora has sold $64 million worth of State houses in the past three years.
Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: Very simply. There are circumstances where it may be the wrong house in the wrong place. Where it does not match demand in that area, it is surplus to requirement. We made a commitment to the mass sale of State houses, and we have kept to that. So what I can go through for that member’s edification: in 2017-18—of which we’re only responsible for part of that year—70 State houses were sold. In 2018-19, 54 were sold, and in 2019-20, 64 were sold. I would compare this to 2014-15, when 577 were sold. I could compare this to 2015-16, when 428 were sold. Let us always remember that member is a member of a party that finished Government with fewer public houses than it started with.
Nicola Willis: Can she confirm that only half of the new public housing places sourced by the Government in the past three years are additional, newly built homes, and can she tell the House how much money Kāinga Ora has spent in the past three years competing against other prospective buyers to buy up existing homes?
Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: In answer to the first part of the question, what I can tell the member is that we have been steadily tracking down in buy-ins from Kāinga Ora. So, in the 2017-18 year, 24 percent—of which we were only responsible for a part of that period—were buy-ins, as directly comparable to the year before, 2016-17, where 41 percent of new builds were buy-ins. But we have been steadily tracking down, and we have made our expectations very clear to Kāinga Ora that, actually, we’re sitting around a quarter, now, that are buy-ins, and we’ve made our expectations even clearer that we want that to decrease even further. But, in 2010-11, 67 percent of all new acquisitions were buy-ins, under the previous Government. This is not something that we would be willing to tolerate. I have also made my expectations to community housing providers (“CHiPS”) very clear. In the last two years, 77 percent of all their new acquisitions have been buy-ins, and I’ve made it very clear to them that the relationship has to be based on additionality. We will be adding to the housing stock, and we want to work with the community housing providers to do likewise.
Willis drew attention to Woods’ answer to a written question which lists more than three-quarters of a billion dollars’ worth of houses that have been bought in from the private market by the Government in the past three years to be used for State housing. Could she confirm those figures?
Woods said she would have to go back to check if that was an aggregate number that covers both Kāinga Ora and “CHiPS”, or whether it is just Kāinga Ora.
But there had been a steady decline in the number of Kāinga Ora buy-ins.
And Woods said has made clear to Kāinga Ora and the “CHiPS” that the government wants to see more houses built.
“We won’t be selling them off.
Latest from the Beehive
26 FEBRUARY 2021
25 FEBRUARY 2021