Editorial: Twyford should restore social housing scheme

The previous Government did not have much faith in the ability of Housing NZ to build and manage the state’s rental housing. Former Prime Minister Sir Bill English was particularly scathing about its ability when, as Finance Minister, he tried to entice private sector charities and community groups to provide “social housing” in competition with the corporation for public funds. He offered to sell some of the state’s portfolio to the potential competitors and provide some finance to get them started.

The Labour Party has come to power with a different philosophy. It has provided Housing NZ with an additional $2.9 billion to build new houses and has taken away the upfront funding for the few private organisations that were interested in the previous scheme. Housing Minister Phil Twyford says he would like community groups to build about a third of the 6400 new houses the Government wants to see by June 2022 but he has replaced the starting assistance with the promise of an operating subsidy once a project was built.

This is for rental housing, not to be confused with the KiwiBuild scheme that aims to build low-cost houses for sale to first home seekers who can afford them. Rental housing will remain the urgent need for the “homeless”, a category which officially includes people in overcrowded, temporary or substandard accommodation as well as those living in the streets.

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Source: NZ Herald