Affordable housing for dummies


Labour/Greens actions of supporting private enterprise with huge subsidies (tax breaks on interest) for ‘build to rent’ companies, and granting property developers power to bully build and override community democractic rights, shows the lack of courage and intellectual/economic insight in the centrist political pragmatism that dominates both these parties.

The above actions are all National/Act party approaches to problem solving; done by Labour to avoid criticism, to try and steal center voters who might switch votes (it is beyond logic why the Greens have done this – i.e. center votes aren’t going to deliver urgent climate change action. And you’re pissing off some your left voters – who may as well try the Maori party). National/Act love the centrists as it helps their constiutents make good profits to increase donations to their parties. The crumbs for Labour and the Greens are houses being built. But there is no gaurantee it will be affordable housing, though I’m sure lots of soothing words will be said it will, ‘following the laws of demand and supply (cough cough)’. And soothing words that the ‘ ‘build to rent’ won’t completely lock the New Zealand middle class into perpetual renting, it will just be one part of the market! A transition step to home ownership like it used to be (cough cough).’

I feel I have previously shown reliance on private enterprise is fatally flawed logic, but people still raise the idea there is a housing shortage because there is not enough supply so any encouragement of supply is good. So in a little more detail, not that it deserves it. In classical economics if you have a shortage of affordable houses like we currently have, that sends a signal to the market that a profit can be made by supplying more houses, so they supply more house. The demand gets met to a point where less and less people are able, or willing, (or all supply needs are met), to pay at that price. So demand stops/drops. A drop in demand sends a signal that prices can drop. So prices start to drop. And this in turn sends a signal to a supplier of housing that there is less profit to be made so they will either slow supply or stop new supply. And it all stabiises around a new equilibrium(?) and the market is happy and somehow affordable housing must have been met.

There are many obvious flaws in this logic, especially when applied to ‘affordable housing’. E.g.:

  • Many people are not able to pay the prices the market has got to. They still need affordable housing but in a housing shortage the private market is sending signals to keep raising prices. The private market has a built in inflection through price to lock some people out of supply. To ration by price. (Affordable food, shelter, are best not delivered by a private market mechanism. See our current private market supply chain problems as further proof. We can include clothing in this category if we want to introduce ethhics into our markets – most cheap/affordable clothing is based on exploitation).
  • When demand starts to drop the supplier instantly has a signal to drop production (this is a very early obvious signal). So they drop supply to a level to sustain residual demand in order to maintain their profit expectations (maximise profits). This shows the private market has a built in tendency to maintain prices at high levels, the levels they have got to. The market has no incentive to maintain supply to drop prices because that will drop profit expectation. Fewer houses at a higher price makes more sense – contrast to low price high turnover items. Competitors could come in but the incentive even for them is keep prices high. Just look at the New Zealand electricity market – there is competition but prices are still massively higher than when it was government run (I recall $30 power bills, something like $60 in winter).
  • Those people who are buying houses do not have the same access to information as those who are selling. In part because they buy less frequently. But more importantly when they buy they not only focused the price. Because they are not so focused on price it is possible for the seller to use those other factors as a way to push up price to maximise profit. The buyer is therefore more likely to overpay which helps keep the market high. So the private market is skewed more easliy for the ability to maximise profits by a supplier rather than ‘efficiently’ setting price. This process favours those people positioned as the middle men in the market sitting between a producer and a final consumer.
If this information isn’t enough then ask yourself  – Is it really ‘affordable housing’ if you have to have a huge crushing mortgage to the end of your life, and over the years when you have children?
So the Labour/Green policy actions that promote the private enterprise housing market will do nothing to promote the supply of Affordable housing. Steps they can take to promote affordable housing are:
1. remove the interest deduction subsidies for the ‘build to rent’ businesses.
2. Stop the delegation to private developers of the right for them to force through their developments without community rights of complaint. On a positive note they can start some proper planning to build mid rise housing in true central city areas that are near or above retail areas. i.e. Do not delegate the power of force to private developers but use it by the government to build affordable housing and directly fix the affordable housing problems.


    • This is exactly what Auckland Council is doing via their Panuku cco.
      As the chairman Paul Majurey has said, ” we don’t do social housing, we build developements”. Regeneration he calls it which is also known as Gentrification.
      Like when they kicked the poor out of GI and sold the properties to developers to build unaffordable housing for the local populace.

      This is giving developers and investors access to Income Related Rent subsidies when they lease the properties to KaingaOra.

      This is part of the reason why JT and Panuku are in the Human Rights Tribunal at the moment. Panuku contesting the social housing split. Panuku only want 33% of a development for social housing whereas JT wants 67%.

    • @ Nathan
      You really need to question your focus re identity politics and instead look at the bigger picture.
      National, ACT, NZ First, The Green Party, The Maori Party and of course, The Labour party, are all the same thing. They’re all neoliberal.
      Neoliberalism is simply capitalism on the steroids squeezed out of our democracy. Democracy is a mighty engine room of governance in that everyone has an element of ownership within that democracy and a say in its direction as enabled by our ability to cast a vote.
      ‘Capitalism’ is a soulless thing who’s only focus is to grow. Money must mean more money and more money and more money and sooner or later capitalism doesn’t care how it grows, from whom its growth is extracted or for why. Capitalism simply MUST grow… It should be no surprise that some people use the disease that’s cancer as a metaphor to describe capitalism.
      The only way that I can see us all surviving with such a monster straining at it’s chains to have a go at us is to have a robust social system of democratically managed governance. A socially-democratic, capitalist-democracy. It’s a pity it’s such a mouthful. But there it is.
      The current raging monster is out of control. roger douglas knew what he was doing when he handed a crate of free market hand grenades to us toddlers. He knew we’d blow ourselves and each other up. He also knew that by peddling the trickle-down logical fallacy he could, if only for a short while, de fang our unions and create an unprotected work force which he and his colleagues could make themselves, the now polite, armour plated fascists with billions of dollars in personal wealth to enable them survive better than well while we wither succumb to the vulgar and uncouth greed of the multi- billionaire neauveu riche.

      • Countryboy – I am looking at the big picture…I just stopped myself from including all the political parties in the hopeless basket…so far.

    • Of course we don’t it’s a bunch of idiots determining our future.
      Not for me I refuse to be told what I should think where most left leaning people want to be told.

  1. They and most previous NZ Govts do NOT want to fix the problem.
    They just want to look like they’re trying to fix the problem.
    It is SO EASY to fix, if you WANTED to fix it.
    This lot makes Nero look proactive.

  2. Supply and demand theory inherently includes not supplying a certain number of people who can’t or won’t pay the equilibrium price. It’s an inappropriate model for supplying a nessicary good or service to everyone.

    It’s also high school level economics. What I was taught in high school economics was that it’s wrong, at best it’s a basis for understanding more complex economics at university level if you carry on the subject.

    • Reply to ‘This won’t get by the mods’ at Aug 26 7.55am. ‘Hi sorry for delay and it may be pointless but for the record. Yes it is high school basic. But this is the economic model that is being presented and being used to justify affordable housing intensification. I’m critiquing the model presented. I’m like the boy saying the Emperor has no clothes. These childish intensification plans are actually massively destructive. And they won’t work.

        • Jesus Sam, there are still descendants of Norm Kirk still alive FFS, you inconsiderate moron. You right-wing pricks are such insensitive, gossip-mongering arseholes.

          Alex Jones in the USA was fined $43.9 million for his right-wing character assassination, conspiracy theories and fake news. The same sort of Steve Bannon-esque and Cameron Slater-style dirty, sleazy, filthy politics is in the same gutter as Alex Jones. He berated Sandy Hook parents that the massacre was a hoax.

          You born-to-rule ultra-right Tory commentators need to fuck right off and put yourself in the shoes of another family and descendants. To Kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee, and then Barack Obama sums up Atticus’s advice best. and

          I could have used Atticus Finch link only, but realise how much Barack Obama would piss you white nationalists the most. The first black President of the United States, must absolutely piss you racists off even more than Harper Lee or Gregory Peck!

          I should put myself in the shoes of right wing arseholes like you Sam, if you ever find out who your daddy is, I hope he’s more like Atticus Finch and less like Alex Jones. You’ll be better off financially and morally, no matter what your shill payments from the Dirty Politics Commentary Bureau are.

          I know it sounds corny and Skinny Ad-ish, that I have the same name as the National Leader, but even he would think your fucking slurs against Norm Kirk are Cameron-Slaterish.

          If only Norm Kirk’s descendants could sue you the same way that Sandy Hook whanau took the right-wing arsehole Alex Jones to task for his insensitivity. The sooner that right to sue for defamation comes to NZ, the better Sam.

  3. In my early twenties I lived in a shack in an uninsulated Dunedin with holes in the walls and frost on the floor some mornings. Later I moved to a smoko room in a Motueka apple packing shed. Neither experience did me any harm at all. Our modern expectations of what is ‘essential’ do not match up with the experience of our ancestors who would have considered my Dunedin shack very luxurious. 30+ years alter I still live n a house which would not be able to be rented as it would not meet the minimum rental standards, but it was fine for us to raise our family in. It’s no wonder rental prices are so high with all the regulations to meet.

    It seems to me that regulation is the over-riding problem. Most low-income/homeless people have enough ability to put together a small structure to live in, probably for not much higher cost than couple of months of rent. I say let people build little shacks to get started in, work hard and save money (rather than paying off someone elses mortgage in excess rent) and move up as you can. This has been the reality for all humans right throughout history up until the most recent generations. As a society we expect much more now, but we suffer for it in people paying high rentals all their lives and never getting their own homes.

    • eeeee ben when I were a lad we lived in a cardboard box in a swamp and dad would whip us to sleep wi his belt, we had to get up 4 in the morning(half an hour before we went to bed) lick road clean wi tongue and pay t’millowner tuppence a day for the privilege of going to work…..and it did me no harm.

      love the ‘shanty town idea’ that’ll help loads….and the sewage/water/electricity infrastructure is coming from?

    • Mate people are paying high rentals to live in garages and garages converted to sleepouts all over Auckland. Skyline Shanties.

  4. Don’t worry, exploitation has just been green lighted! Wages overall will be lowered and consumption of houses will grow along with low wages and poverty in NZ.

    “Employers have welcomed the government’s decision to allow employers to negotiate a lower median wage for foreign workers in some sectors but many say that it does not go far enough.

    They say that given the acute shortage of labour in almost all sectors of the New Zealand economy, the government should extend the benefit of a lesser median wage to cover blue-collar jobs including those not on the ‘Short Skills List.

    Immigration Minister Michael Wood announced yesterday (August 21, 2022) that employers in the construction, meat processing seafood, aged care, snow and adventure tourism industries can offer a median wage between $24 and $26 to attract migrant workers.

    The median wage for migrant labour in all other sectors is $27.76 per hour.”

    “Working Holiday Scheme doubled

    Mr Wood said that each of the agreements included expectations for improvement, including implementation of workforce transition plans and industry transformation plans.

    The move is an attempt to address workplace shortages across the country.”

    “Appeal for unskilled workers

    Employers and staff placement companies say that the severe labour shortage has had an adverse effect on production and supply chain management and that there is an urgent need to address the issue.”

    On that note that is why people are getting poorer in NZ and can’t afford wages and rents.

    Meanwhile charity has become a business, where they seem to be paying minimum wages, bullying and falsely accounting for the work that they do (aka in this case claiming they were producing more food parcels to media than they were).

    ‘Hero of the year’ led food bank with low wages, poor culture, ‘camera monitoring’

  5. If you drive around Auckland you can see that within a year or so when the current crop of apartments and multi unit developments are completed there was going to be a housing crisis of oversupply and many of those units if not left empty start impacting affordable housing. The immigration flood gate had to be opened to ‘protect’ house prices.

    • @Joseph, “The immigration flood gate had to be opened to ‘protect’ house prices.”

      …And keep NZ wages artificially low.

      NZ’s house problem starts with demand led poverty as seen by the announcement

      There has been assessment that a family of 4 needs an income of around $160k to live in Auckland comfortably and similar level of wages in other cities in NZ.

      So we have to ask why import in foreign migrants to work NZ jobs at a fraction of that, when we are in a welfare state and workers on those on those wages will be in poverty in NZ and eventually be subsidised by other tax payers in a range of top up benefits and accomodation supplements.

      Note often the industries paying the low wages are highly profitable and led by multimillionaires if not billionaires. “construction, meat processing seafood, aged care, snow and adventure tourism industries”.

      Wonder why NZ construction is dysfunctional and youth don’t want to train to do it anymore in NZ. Wages of $24 and $26 to attract migrant workers mean that it is not worth training in that field. Likewise aged care and all the other industries that used to pay better like meat works and fishing – many paying these artificially low wages are hard physical jobs that end up on ACC pushing up everyone elses premiums.

      • Totally agree.

        The housing affordibility crisis can be solved by restricting immigration and bringing wages upto an affordable house level. Or immigration can be restricted until the projected over supply of housing causes affordable house prices to meet the low wage economy. Any hope or chance of supply meeting demand has been dashed. In two years prices will be ramping again. That’s going to continue while there is low wage immigration and overseas investors can buy houses via NZ companies.

        Where is the plan for an environmentally sustainable population, capital investment that inceases labour productivity and a resulting high wage economy?

    • That over-supply is not ‘a housing crisis”..

      It is an ‘investors losing their money crisis’.

      But agree that higher immigration will be the result – because no-one can lose money on housing investments in NZ, it’s unwritten government policy.

  6. ” And you’re pissing off some your left voters – who may as well try the Maori party ”

    Nah not if they do their homework. TMP is no more likely to address the economic and social neglect of the two major parties. They don’t even poll higher enough to be taken seriously even in a tied parliament and it will all just be about identity issues not hard economic and social inequality.

    Change will only come when it is forced by a new anti class movement that enters parliament and has to be negotiated with.

    • We’ll see. I plan to vote te pati Maori for the first time, previously voted Green. I know lots who plan to vote te pati Maori. They have the best climate change policy of any pati by a long mile.

  7. The current Labour Government lead by Jacinda Ardern are a disgrace.
    That’s all that needs to be said.

    • Hear hear.
      But all the other alternatives are even worse. So we’re screwed.
      At least the others don’t hide the fact that they are right wing and don’t care about the poor.

        • That is a concept many here will not allow themselves to believe. Sad really as if they did it would be easier to do more…or as it is currently, something anything to help those struggling.

  8. Times were not good for all . Maori were treated like shit and we are just starting to uncover the harsh way those in care were treated. Black outs were common and items were often unavailable. The government had control of everything that was important and inflation was rife. Housing was affordable but interest rates were high and rentals were none existent .I arrived in Chch in 73 and there were r houses to rent .

    • The reason there were no rentals to be had was people could afford to buy and mom & pops knew they could rely on the state to look after them in their old age so there wasnt the demand by the more well off to get involved in dirty landlordism. And the two reasons most workers could afford to buy their own homes State Advances Dept/Housingcorp maybe also Maori Affairs Dept loaned money to home owners at the lower interest rates that only goverments can borrow at. And secondly wages were higher in comparison to house price. When I left school and worked as labourer in a factory I was on $5000 per year and the flat I lived in a 25 year old house was valued around $25,000. A couple of teenagers could save a deposit in 6-18months.

  9. There’s a house in my street that doesn’t meet Jacinda’s rental standards so it’s stood empty for the last three years. The owner was going install insulation and a heat pump but then the new tenancy laws were introduced so he flagged the idea.
    His view is that while his place doesn’t meet rental standards, there are tenants that don’t meet his standards.
    This tells you all you need to know about the rental market.

    • so andrew the scumbag was upset because he’d have to provide something slightly better than a dog kennel, if he put some work in he might attract ‘a better class of tenant’…
      typical example of NZ short term squeeze out a dollar and fuck tomorrow thinking.

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