Arstrong on Auckland housing

Arstrong on Auckland housing

In a sobering column about the continual distractions facing National at the moment (MBIE extravagance, Saudi sand storms, Key firing blanks in Parliament), John Armstrong reserved his harshest criticism for the government's farcical Auckland housing programmes:

Meanwhile, John Key and Nick Smith combined to further tangle the already tangled web surrounding use of Crown-owned land for housing and iwi rights of first refusal if and when some goes up for sale.

Smith's bull-in-a-china-shop approach to portfolio management has its advantages in giving the perception of action. But when it comes to tackling the Auckland housing crisis, Smith seems to be running out of options. But the problem is only going to get bigger, according to the Productivity Commission's latest report. But more on that later.

Smith has admitted to reporters he is feeling the pressure. Which is why Labour is harrying him relentlessly. [...]

All this [MBIE stuff, Saudi stuff] pales into relative insignificance when placed alongside the Productivity Commission's latest missive on Auckland housing.

The commission noted that back in 2012 the Auckland Council estimated an existing shortfall of between 20,000 and 30,000 dwellings, plus need for a further 13,000 dwellings to be built each year.

Even using the council's conservative estimate of the shortfall, the commission says 46,000 new homes were needed by the end of last year.

From 2012 to 2014, however, only a few more than 14,000 dwellings were granted consents - about half of what the council estimates is required just to accommodate new demand.

In the meantime, the shortfall of dwellings in Auckland continued to grow.

The big worry was that developers were not planning to build dwellings at a rate that would erode the shortfall. The ambitious new dwelling targets in the Auckland Housing Accord, if met, would erode the backlog, but would still leave Auckland some 26,500 dwellings short by the end of 2016.

"Each year that this shortfall continues is likely to result in additional pent-up demand," the report said.

The commission's report got scant coverage, probably because elements of it were not new. Nevertheless, it should be compulsory reading for every politician, both inside and outside Auckland.

Let's see whether Smith can both (1) dig himself out his current holes, and (2) actually take the Productivity Commission's report and recommendations seriously. I seriously doubt it.

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