Getting people off the state house waiting list – but not into state housing!


At first glance it seems the government finally has a positive story to tell about the state house waiting list.

After the numbers exploded after Labour came to power in late 2017 – from just over 5,000 to a high of over 26,000 last year, the numbers appear to have peaked and begun a significant decline – down to 23,127 at the end of December 2022.

However its important to remember that this decrease in the waiting list is NOT because the government has suddenly begun an industrial-scale state house building programme which the country desperately needs. When Labour came to power in late 2017 there were 61,351 state house rentals. Today, five years later, there are 65,654 state house rentals – a net increase of just 4,403 state houses over five years. Pathetic!

If we include emergency or transitional housing (where the government takes out short term leases and local community housing providers (where the government assists CHP’s to provide housing) the total income related rental housing has increased from 63,315 to just 70,397 – an increase of just 7,082 over five years.

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So why has the number of people on the state house waiting list dropped in the past year? Simply because the government has “managed” (aka booted) people off the list – “working with people to find out their actual housing needs” is how government ministers put it.

The big majority of those who left the waiting list in the December quarter did NOT go into state housing or into state-subsidised housing. Instead they left the list mainly by moving into private accommodation with 640 who “self-exited” – in other words gave up on ever getting a state house despite meeting the criteria to be on the list. One can imagine the frustration leading to people simply giving up on state housing and struggling on in private sector rentals and letting the government off the hook.

To complete the picture – in the December quarter last year 1,848 people were housed from the register while 2,331 tenancies were ended.

The picture from these figures is one of a huge churn of people on low-incomes moving house for a wide range of reasons related to poverty and inequality. The stability from decent, warm dry, affordable housing is simply not there. It’s not too cynical to say the Labour government, along with National, have no appetite for an industrial scale state house building programme because this would threaten the incomes of middle-class landlords both parties want for their votes. Labour is determined to keep state house numbers at just 3.6% of total housing stock and refuses to shift this back to the 5.4% it was in 1990.

Hence Labour’s focus is on transitional housing rather than long-term state housing and managing people off the state house waiting list – something Labour has in the past viciously, and quite rightly, attacked National for doing.

And to fund it’s modest increase in state houses the government is demolishing state houses and selling most of the land to private developers.

This is our modern Labour Party witt less than a half dozen MPs from working class backgrounds.


  1. “And to fund its modest increase in state houses the government is demolishing state houses and selling most of the land to private developers”.

    Do you have any examples/numbers for this?

  2. Journalist to a Labour housing minister:
    “How many houses has the govt built?”
    Minister: “3,480, and that’s more than the previous govt ever built!”
    Interview ends….
    Journalist to a National housing minister:
    “How many houses has the govt built?”
    Minister: “3,000”
    “And how many houses have been demolished?, What is the total when you subtract the amount demolished?”
    THIS is how journalism in NZ has been for the last 6yrs….protecting Labours cluster fucks in almost every aspect of this outgoing govt.
    Guess the 110 million journalism ‘bribe’ money was well spent eh!?

  3. This was going on during the Key government and accelerated under the 6th labour government. This policy preceded the Key government as the first project that I actually saw rise up was in Upper Hutt in around 2006 followed by a large redevelopment in Lower Hutt along the Hutt river.

    Government used this as a funding mechanism and opportunity to increase the number of social housing on land owned by Housing New Zealand. Now Housing NZ owns less land but more houses.

    If you cannot find an example fin your own area, you choose to stay ignorant.

  4. Makes one wonder?
    Do we have a real housing strategy or is our national housing strategy that the market will provide.
    On this one I agree with you, John, we deserve better. A housing policy that is more progressive in terms of the right to a roof over your head. But the political cost of real reform is considered too high.

    Reality is, we continue to “sell” a dream that cannot be achieved without a political cost. Therefore, the support for CHP’s. Out of sight, out of mind?

  5. It seems we have National who flog them off as quickly as they can while we have Labour flog them off to pay for new builds in Auckland, the price difference between the regions means 3 houses in the provinces had to be sold to pay for one new Auckland build. Then we had the next National govt who invented a fake meth scam to kick tenants out so they had more houses to flog off.
    The govt did this to us.

  6. Currently housing is used as a means of wealth creation for middle class second home owners. This requires pools of desperate renters who’s rent is then subsidized by the state – over $2 billion a year is paid to landlords. Imagine the outrage if these renters were removed from the private market by social housing and landlords were faced with lower demand and reduced rental income.
    The ability to exploit and impoverish fellow NZer’s via rental property is an unquestionable right for many and no political party (except TOP) dares whisper a challenge to this sustained cruelty.

  7. we prefer top use refugee camp (let’s call a spade a spade) motels and make no mistake these are refugees from the war landlords are inflicting on tenants….if we are not careful our refugees will still be in camps in 50yrs time.

  8. “A net increase of just over 4,403 state houses over 5 years” pathetic.
    Wait/WTF that’s only 16.93 houses per WEEK added or roughly 67 people with a warm roof over their head.
    Much ado about nothing.

  9. It’s depressing… To read how morons are fine with nine Neo-Natzo sponsored multi-billionaires and four now foreign owned banks stealing $180.00 a second in net profits annually but they have little purple fits when housing’s mooted for the victims of the aforementioned. I’m constantly surprised at how dumb, how deeply depressingly dull minded some people are. But wait? It gets worse. We, who are not so thick, must live cheek by jowl amongst them.
    Like this creep. Check out this fucking hideous creature. Notice how she curls up the corners of her lip parts in what I assume is a smile as if she’s a fucking Lizard Woman who’s just swallowed a cockroach.
    CEO who made $5M last year tells employees asking for more money to “leave Pity City”

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