Affordable housing is the topic de jour. The foundation of affordable housing in New Zealand and other developed nations has long been houses built by the government and rented cheaply: state housing.
Since the construction of the first state house in 1937, it has been a history of Labour building them and National selling them off, culminating the 1990s free-for-all.
National cut state house construction from 2500 a year to 250, while it began selling them at up to 3000 a year. Just as bad, those people who could stay in a state house saw their rents skyrocket with the introduction of â€˜market rents’ while wages stagnated and benefits were cut. By the end of those years over 10,000 state houses had been sold. If it had gone on much longer we would have seen the unplanned shantytowns develop that the First Labour Government built state houses to avoid in the first place.
The Labour-led Government placed a moratorium on most state house sales and has undertaken a vigorous building and renovation program, as well as reducing rents. Every step of the way National has called for more sell-offs and simultaneously criticised the Government for the wait-list of would-be state house tenants; an extra 10,000 state house are needed, the wait-list only exists because of National’s sell-off. And to take the hypocrisy one step further, John Key has vigorously opposed state housing construction in his wealthy electorate calling it “economic vandalism”.