We should walk the talk on housing

Vic Crone –

While we are distracted with unrealistic and fringe solutions, Auckland’s average house price romps towards a million dollars.

Sadly, we are no longer talking squarely about the price of ownership but also rising homelessness.

With a 30,000 home shortage in Auckland, we are not seeing clear enough progress in the absolute basics of housing supply. We are dropping the ball with low land availability, a slow consenting pipeline, lagging infrastructure, but all the while we are seeing bigger and more expensive homes built.

Action needed

Recently, with the ‘Lifewise Big Sleepout,’ I experienced first-hand what it was like to sleep rough for a night. It was a big wakeup call.

It is time that we had substantial effort in core areas strangling housing supply.

Firstly, that means (a) Getting tough on land banking. Land earmarked for development must be developed as soon as possible or face substantial targeted rates (b) Land sold by the Government and the Council must have sunset clauses and criteria on the mix of homes to increase affordable housing (c) A lean process review on Council’s consenting approach, speeding it up, taking it online and providing full transparency to users (d) Better partnerships with government, developers and infrastructure providers to get infrastructure in as soon as possible. This includes applications for the recently announced Housing Infrastructure Fund.

It is likely that we will be be nearly 40,000 homes short in a couple of years. Aucklanders deserve to know when we will realistically begin to make a dent in supply. Will we be facing huge price increases for another two, five or ten years?

Transparent Reports

To ensure that we are getting this progress, I am calling for quarterly housing report cards giving us a clear picture of how we are tracking and what action is taking place.

This transparency will no doubt speed up results and improve decision making. Clear and simple information should include (1) Progress and actions underway to clean up the full-time consenting pipeline. This includes the average full-time consent period and the numbers at each consent stage (2) The amount of land earmarked versus land freed up for development by the government and Council, along with development activity. For example, no development action (bare); in consent; construction underway; and on the market/sold (3) Key infrastructure initiatives required for new housing developments and the progress on these and (4) The mix of homes being consented to provide more affordable homes to Aucklanders (apartments, townhouses and homes).

Government homes

Finally, the government simply does not have the capability and flexibility to build housing at the scale and pace we need, as suggested by some people.

In addition, those building projects would suck funding away from the critical supporting infrastructure needed. The biggest impact that we can get here and now is to get the supply chain we already have moving.

Then we can look at other solutions to boost supply.

While I cannot speak for the government, I think we would get much better and faster results through social enterprise partnerships.

Vic Crone is a Mayoral Candidate for Auckland City.


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