Support for an industrial-scale state house building programme now extends far across the political spectrum from the progressive left to the hard right.
Bryce Edwards has detailed this astonishing across-the-board coalition today. Set aside normal political disagreements – this is the good, the bad and the ugly on steroids.
From progressive voices like the Child Poverty Action Group and the State Housing Action Network and virtually every living, breathing Labour, Maori and Green Party voter, to economists such as Bernard Hickey, Shamubeel Eaqub and Sam Stubbs, local mayors across the country, academics such asJohn Bishop, Newstalk ZB’s Heather du Plessis-Allan and even Bob Jones – bless his cotton socks.
The commentary from these disparate groups has similar themes
- The state house waiting list is increasing at double the rate the government is building state houses – its now up to 22,803
- We are building just one third the number of state houses per capita that we built in the 1930s and 1940s when we last had a housing crisis on this scale
- The private sector is building homes for higher income households but not for middle and low incomes households where the housing crisis is centred
- The private sector has NEVER built houses for people on low incomes
- The accommodation supplement, which props up the failed housing market by subsidising unaffordable rents in the private sector, has ballooned out to $3.5 billion per year – money much better spent building state houses
- Only the government has the resources and capacity to build the number of warm, dry homes the country so desperately needs
- The government can borrow money at lower interest rates than the private sector and can use economies of scale to drastically drop the cost of building
And we have a Labour government in power – the first outright majority government in the history of MMP – with interest rates at historic lows. Surely this should be a slam dunk!
But no – the tiny group in the Labour leadership which has control of the levers of power is mired in neo-liberalism where the market rules everything. They are terrified of their own shadow.
This coming budget is Labour’s last-chance saloon to create a state agency (a 2021 Ministry of Works) to build state houses on the industrial scale the community is demanding.