Some excellent pieces on Auckland’s housing over the weekend. From The Nation:
Auckland’s hidden homeless
A growing numbers of families are being forced to live in cars because of unaffordable housing.
Families living in their cars. Brighter Future!
Government figures show rents for three-bedroom houses across Auckland have increased by 25 percent in five years, and that’s spawned a new type of property market — garage rental accommodation.
Social workers say some families are paying almost $400 a week to put a garage roof over their heads, and a social policy analyst says one in 10 south Auckland properties has a garage tenant.
Manukau East MP Jenny Salesa has a growing number of constituents who call a garage home because they can’t afford rising rent prices. “We’ve been told that some people rent out garages at $200 a week,” she says. “Some rent out at over $300 a week, but when you look at the average rent in Otara and south Auckland, $200 or $300 is affordable.” … Newshub spoke to a group of 50 social workers who said families living in garages is common. We heard of one case with a family with two young kids had been living in a garage for two years. Their weekly rent? $380. …
This is wrong. It is a moral failure, a leadership failure, a market failure – it is every kind of failure.
The squeeze on housing stocks is driving the demand for garage space. There are 4500 people on the Housing New Zealand waiting list, and emergency accommodation providers like the Monte Cecilia Housing Trust have been turning families away for years.
And the Nats are intent on selling off state housing.
Following up on The Nation, Tim Watkin at Pundit:
How Special Housing Areas are failing & the immorality of land bankers
It’s time to call out land bankers and require urgent action, because Auckland’s lack of houses is driving people in their cars
But what social service agencies are now reporting is a growing – yes, growing – group of Kiwis living in their cars or renting garages. Social workers in South Auckland to a person say they can’t remember it being this bad. Rents have risen 25 percent in five years and emergency houses are full. If you can’t afford the rent, there’s nowhere to go. Except your car, or perhaps someone’s garage.
When wages have only gone up 10 percent in the same time those rents have risen 25 percent, you can see why some can’t keep up and are forced into those cars and garages.
So it’s time for mum and dad property investors to ask themselves a few hard questions. If the cost of your borrowing is forcing people to pay rents they can’t afford, maybe you shouldn’t be in the landlord business. Even if you are only one stone in the mountain, have you borrowed too much to morally justify your investment?
But even more in the gun are the property developers, especially those who are land banking in this market. It’s time to call out those land bankers and say enough. … Because your land banking is making kids sick. It’s driving families into their cars. It’s increasingly immoral to fiddle while Auckland burns.
Auckland desperately needs houses and if you’re a developer sitting on land, then you’re putting your own finances ahead of the need of families to have a roof over their heads. …
A moral argument for people to forego easy money? I agree. But the Nats are laughing at us.
Final piece, this morning’s anonymous editorial in The Herald:
‘Supply’ excuse for housing lets govt stand idle
It is convenient for the Government to attribute the price of houses entirely to a lack of supply because it enables it to avoid taking effective action to reduce demand for investment homes. It is an argument that makes the Government popular with home owners who have already invested heavily in multiple houses, for it not only relieves them of effective taxation but promises to supply Auckland with many more potential investment properties.
The pace of house price rises cannot be slowed just by building more houses, particularly more “affordable” houses. Those are exactly the stock investors are looking for. The cheaper the house for its location, the better the likely capital gain. There is no limit to the demand for speculative property in and around Auckland, and making more land and housing available will only add more fuel to the fire. …
Exactly. Without a legislative fix like Labour’s Kiwibuild you can’t build “affordable” housing. You have to build enough housing that it becomes affordable. How long will National get away with fiddling with minor tweaks instead of confronting this fundamentally broken market?