Housing New Zealand is going to build some affordable houses in Christchurch and then sell them. It’s not a bad idea. In fact, if it were done right and en masse, it should have been a centrepiece of National’s empty ‘affordable housing’ announcment. But I fear it won’t be done right. It’s not enough just to build affordable homes: you need to make sure landlords don’t snap them up.
First, you need a capital gains tax to get the speculative money out of housing, which drives up prices in a giant ponzi scheme. That would give first homeowners a real crack at buying these houses.
Second, you could go beyond neoliberalism and determine the outcome, rather than leaving it to the market at all. Put a lien on the properties that they can’t be leased by the owners (with exceptions permitted by HNZ etc etc). By cutting the landlords out altogether, you would again make the homes more affordable for ordinary people.
Third, if you really wanted to make this work you would let Housing NZ tenants rent to own their properties with soft loans, which would be recycled into building more affordable, modern housing.
But, will any of these things happen? No. Not under National. These ‘affordable houses’ will turn out to be unaffordable as speculators, who are always going to be able to outbid a young family, swoop in and buy them up – then profit by renting them to those young families that they were built for.