Housing is a major issue for Nelson as rents and house prices soar. These increases are impacting on those struggling to find a home to rent, first home buyers unable to get a foot in the door and businesses unable to get skilled staff to move to Nelson for lack of housing.
Labour’s answer at Election 2017 was Kiwibuild. The promise of 100,000 affordable homes was Labour’s flagship policy repeated in campaign pamphlets, candidate and street corner meetings by the Nelson candidate. She said Nelson would get at least 1,000 Kiwibuild homes. None have been built. None are under construction. None are planned.
Kiwibuild has wasted huge sums of taxpayer’s money and delayed new private sector housing. The developer of 200 homes in Toi Toi Street says the mucking around by Kiwibuild bureaucrats has only delayed the Victory project that is now proceeding without Government support.
The lesson of Kiwibuild is that there is no single magic bullet to our housing problems. The Government cannot build houses faster or more cheaply than building companies. We need to change the laws and rules that make developing housing so slow and expensive, help Councils with the infrastructure costs, help first home buyers with getting a deposit, stop adding costs to the rental sector and give more support to the community housing sector.
Replacing the Resource Management Act that makes it so expensive to create new sections is National’s top priority. We bypassed it in Christchurch after the earthquakes and the costs of renting and buying a house is now better there than any part of New Zealand.
The Homestart scheme I introduced as Minister in 2015 that gives grants of up to $20,000 towards a deposit has helped over 80,000 people buy their first home including 2,300 in Nelson and Tasman. The numbers being helped is declining. The problem is that the house price caps have not kept up with the 25% increase since 2017. These need adjusting to realistic levels.
Nelson rents have gone up $68 a week under Labour over the past three years compared to an increase of $20 for the previous three years under National. The issue is Labour keeps loading extra costs and regulation on the rental sector that gets passed onto tenants. National will pull back on excessive regulation.
Building more state houses is part of the solution. Labour has demolished and sold more state houses than they have built in the last three years in Nelson and Tasman. The Government needs to partner with our wonderful community housing organisations like Habitat for Humanity, Abbeyfield and the Nelson Tasman Housing Trust. The Trust built 14 new homes in Nelson between 2014-17 but none since under Labour due to the grant scheme being stopped.
The last part of the housing puzzle needing attention is a growing group of homeless Nelson people with complex mental health and addiction needs. These people need to be funded into supported housing like that provided by the Salvation Army in other parts of New Zealand.