If you read or listen to Housing Minister Megan Woods it’s easy to be assured the government has been working wonders with state housing and housing for low-income tenants and families.

Here are a few quotes from her recently:

“It has been a key priority for us to fix the housing crisis we inherited, and we are making traction”

“Since we were elected, this government has added another 10,328 public homes, as well as more than 3922 transitional homes to the public housing system”

“Rebuilding the ability of the public housing sector to deliver these homes reflects a deep commitment to righting the wrongs of National’s approach to social housing. If National had built public housing at the same rate we are, there would be nearly 23,000 new state houses, accounting for 94 per cent of those on the current waiting list”

The facts tell a different story.

The most important statistic is the number of people on the state house waiting list. The most recently available stats are in the graph here.

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When Labour came to power in late 2017 there were just over 5,000 on the state house waiting list – now there are 24,081.

The second most important statistic is the net increase in state houses over the same period. It is a paltry 2,502 (from 60,035 to 62,538) – for a waiting list of 24,081.

If this is what a “key priority” looks like to Megan Woods then it is at best delusional.

Taking the increase in housing provided by community housing providers as well as Kainga Ora gives a net increase of 9,729 homes (from 64,049 to 74,778) and this matches the government’s policy to approve only an additional 1800 IRRS (Income Related Rental Subsidies) each year. This key economic constraint has not changed since Labour was elected in 2017.

The other houses Minister Woods talks about to get to her magical figures are existing houses and motels which have been contracted to the government as “emergency or temporary” housing.

However whichever way you look at it the cruel fact is the problem is getting larger under this Labour government. People with “serious and persistent housing need” are continuing to increase while the government magics up figures from a fantasy world to tell us – there is no issue here – “we are on track to fix the housing crisis”.

The real problem is that Labour is still wedded to neo-liberalism which says the problem can be solved by “the market”. So Labour is determined to keep state houses at just 3.6% of total housing stock (In 1990 it was 5.5%) This strangling state house numbers means demand in the private sector continues to go up and so that rents for middle class landlords can continue to rise – and Labour hopes these landlords will continue to vote Labour – the landlord’s government.

But the market can’t solve the problem, it hasn’t and it won’t.

Of all the failures of this government, housing is by far the most serious because it goes to the heart of social stability for the increasing mass of New Zealanders and their families who exist on low-incomes.

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