The Christchurch Housing Crisis


In late February Gerry Brownlee said on CTV show Lynched that there is no housing crisis.  He went on to define a crisis as “something that requires urgent attention”.  So does that mean that Gerry Brownlee believes housing in Christchurch does not require urgent attention?

That explains a lot.

It aligns with his comment last year that the rental crisis was “best left to the market”.

People are facing their fourth winter since the earthquakes, many in cold, damp, flooded, broken homes.

The number of homeless (by the official government definition) is over 5000.  Some, including children, are still sleeping in cars, tents, garages, caravans and on other people’s couches.

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We have a significant lack of supply which is contributing to massive rent increases (31% in 3 years).  And rents are expected to continue to rise.

22% of households in rental accommodation spend 40% or more of their income on rent. The cost of housing is pushing families into poverty, with budgets stretched to breaking point.  For too many, after paying the rent there isn’t enough to pay the bills or afford adequate food.  Older people aren’t turning on heating because they can’t afford it.

The lack of supply has also led to an increase in house prices, pricing many people out of the Kiwi dream of owning their own homes.  National has announced plans to build 275, $500,000 “affordable” homes.  Two problems with that: 1) the Government is thinking too small scale and tinkering, and 2) Christchurch is a city where 50% of peoeple have an income below $29,000 per year – $500,000 is not an affordable home for most people.

Home ownership in Christchurch has dropped to 64.8%.  We know that home ownership (or long-term security of tenure) has a major impact on educational and health outcomes for children—which is why it used to be government policy to encourage home ownership.

The standard of housing in Christchurch is dropping with many taking their insurance pay-outs and then selling broken homes “as is, where is”.  Investors are then buying them and putting people into these broken homes without doing earthquake repairs.  And overcharging tenants for the privilege.

Three and a half years after the quake, too many still have unresolved EQC and insurance issues.

Many Housing NZ and Council housing units are yet to have their earthquake repairs – hundreds sit empty.

And we lack builders and tradespeople to build the houses necessary to increase supply.  We need 5000 apprentices/trade trained people now – just to stand still.

Add to that the increased cost of power. It is a recipe for an increase in poor health.

The CDHB is very concerned about the long-term health implications of the housing crisis and have advised the Government to improve housing quality and facilitate the provision of affordable housing.

They’ve also spoken out about the housing crisis for the mentally ill.

There is a housing crisis, and it demands urgent attention.

We must build more affordable homes.  Labour’s KiwiBuild policy will ensure 10,000 warm dry affordable homes are built in Canterbury over the next four years.  That will include housing in the central city: we must get people living in the central city if we’re to get its heart beating again.

We must ensure homes are warm and dry.  Labour has announced a Healthy Homes Guarantee – a minimum standard required to rent out a house including adequate insulation and heating.

We must ensure we train people who can then rebuild our city.  Labour will turn the dole into apprenticeships to speed up the number of people trained in trades.  It will also give our young people who are not in employment or training hope for a better future and prevent the need to import larger numbers of overseas labour – which will put even more pressure on housing.

And there is more policy to come.

All people should have access to adequate, safe, secure, sustainable and affordable housing. No one should be prevented from establishing a decent home because of low income.

Housing will be a dominant issue in the 2014 election for Christchurch.  Labour has solutions to the crisis.  The National Government is doing the bare minimum because it doesn’t believe there is a crisis, doesn’t believe it requires urgent attention, and believes the market will sort it out.  They’re wrong.


  1. There is housing Crisis in Christchurch and its a fact. but this guy is the typical example how Labour is going to loose this years election. No one know him and he was anywhere near to any of the post-earthquake issues in Christchurch and he doesn’t know anything about Christchurch. Labour party gave him Christchurch central seat just because he is an open gay and married a guy and he is the wife as he says and other other guy is the husband. labour party’s seat priority is gay/lesbian or transsexual. Labour party should have selected a good candidate to win back the electorate from National, but lucky Wagner will win the seat again and it is a pain for all the left wing people including me. but the lost Labour party still after own priorities and not people’s. Pity.

      • As for Nicky Wagner she has been missing in action since she was elected back in 2011. Never hear a damn word from her and I am in the Christchurch central electret.

    • Pure rubbish and bordering on bigotry.

      Tony will win Chch central, that’s not even up for question. It’s probably the safest seat going in Chch. Wagner won’t even run.

      I also don’t subscribe to this idea of ‘you weren’t here, you don’t know what it was like’. I don’t give a shit if my new MP is from Texas, so long as Wagner is gone, and someone who cares comes in. I want someone who is empathetic to our situation, not someone who experienced it. I know a lot of people in Christchurch who felt the ground move, but they don’t care that the wind blows through the holes in my living room.

      As for Labour’s policies solving our housing problem, that’s another question, and that’s why I’ll give a party vote to Mana. However, I will be voting for Milne, just like I voted for Brendon Burns last time…and if the Greenies had of given their candidate vote to Burns, then Wagner would have been gone 3 years ago.

      Frazer, it’s because of people like you that Chch is viewed as an ignorant shithole. Sometimes I think we deserve to be left to wallow in our own filth

    • I think tony’s analysis of the housing issues are spot on.this government unfortunately believes that the market will deliver on Christchurch’s housing issues, which in effect means that with a shortage of supply the costs have escalated hugely and the inevitable outcome is that people with property become richer at the expense of those who have to rent.If ever there was a time and an issue that needed thoughtful, cost effective, and humanistic intervention, this would be it.
      as for Tony’s history, he has a solid background in advocating for people on a range of social justice issues where Democratic rights have been ignored and poverty is at the core of the issue.he has been active in central Christchurch for a,number of years, and I applaud labour for selecting a candidate who is competent, has integrity, and has a full understanding of the effects policies have on our vulnerable communities.
      good to see Fraser is a labour candidate, and I can assure him that Tony is a labour candidate with local knowledge and a proven track record.

    • Hi Fraser. I moved to Christchurch in 2000. I was here for the Sep 2010 and Feb 2011 earthquakes as well as the 10,000+ aftershocks.

      At 12.51pm on 22nd February I was in our Problem Gambling Foundation office on the second floor of our Durham Street office eating my lunch at my desk. When the room started shaking I thought it was just an aftershock. But then the building shuddered violently. I saw my colleague Sara dive under her desk and I did the same. The building stopped shaking, and we started navigating our way through overturned shelves and broken things to get out of the building. We never went back – and the building has been demolished. I could say more, but I don’t think it is necessary.

      I’ve worked in Christchurch Central for over 10 years, and in the Christchurch Central electorate for 14. And have been active in numerous issue-based work across Christchurch Central, including post-earthquake work.

      I’m deeply connecting in the Christchurch Central community through my paid work (at the 198 youth health centre in the central city, and then at the Problem Gambling Foundation in the central city), through my work fighting to keep Phillipstown School from being closed, my work with the various central city resident association groups, the campaign to keep Centenniel pool from being bulldozed, , my campaigning (successful) to stop the City Council increasing Council Housing rents by 24% a few years back. Post-earthquake I assisted the Christchurch Methodist Mission with a number of their projects, but particularly their Christmas Hamper project for families in need. I worked with welfare centres post-earthquake, I have worked with the PHA and others on child poverty and housing issues in Christchurch, and worked on issues around Cranford Street being turned from a 2 late street into a 4 lane road. And I’ve been on the Living Wage Christchurch steering committee.

      Not to mention various public health projects. I am well known in the Social Services, Health, Addiction, Environmental, Union and NGO sectors.

      But yes, I will need to continue to build profile through the six months of the campaign.

      • Excellent reply and track record mate, but nothing is ever good enough for the trolls! You could be the Dali Lama for all they care.

  2. Just take away the ability for property speculators to claim interest deductions and allow home owners to claim mortgage interest deductions like they used to be able to.

    That will do wonders to help people own their homes if they can claim back say $10k max a year in mortgage interest.

  3. Hi Tony, I wish you all the very best in Christchurch central. It is heartbreaking to hear of the continuing problems people are experiencing by being forced to live in garages and caravans.

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