Acting boldly to address the housing crisis so we all thrive

Tēnā koe Minister Woods,

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Associate Minister of Housing (Māori Housing) Hon Peeni Henare 
Associate Minister of Housing (Public Housing) Hon Poto Williams 
Minister for the Environment Hon David Parker
Associate Minister for the Environment (Urban Development) Hon Phil Twyford
Minister of Transport Hon Michael Wood 
Minister of Local Government Hon Nanaia Mahuta

It’s not just four walls that make a home. A home is somewhere warm that keeps out the winter draught and stops us from getting sick. It’s somewhere that’s secure and affordable, where we can put down roots, raise our tamariki, and become part of a community.

Our hope is that we create this for everyone in New Zealand, no matter who they are or where they live. 

We must build up our housing stock in a way that ensures our communities thrive. It is an opportunity to ensure we build communities that help us honour te Tiriti, which are connected with public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure, that are medium to high density with plentiful green open spaces, and that ensure accessibility for everyone. 

Aotearoa is in the midst of a housing crisis that has been playing out for the last decade, perpetuated and accelerated by the decisions of successive governments. 

This crisis is dividing generations. It is occurring because not enough homes have been built, and property investors have been put before the needs of people and communities. 

Where new homes have been created, too often they are too expensive and located in sprawling suburbs without good public transport links, a long way away from where people work and study. The law that governs housing developments - the Resource Management Act (RMA) - hasn’t seen enough affordable, quality homes built in liveable communities.

Petrol was poured on the fire just last year when the Reserve Bank, tasked with the sole job of stabilising the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, pumped out money that quickly flowed into property investments, driving up the cost of buying a home. 

This has resulted in Aotearoa being one of the least affordable places in the world for someone to buy a home. It has meant more and more New Zealanders have been pushed into tenuously renting homes that are often cold, damp, unsafe and inaccessible. 

The Green Party supports recent moves to slow property speculation, particularly the decision to close the tax loophole that allowed investors to write off interest costs against the tax they have to pay.

Additionally, we supported the Government’s decision to enable Kāinga Ora to build more homes, by relaxing its financial limits. However, together we can go further, faster. 

The Green Party is asking our partners in Government to consider the following measures to help us build back better than ever. 

 

We can build more homes

It is clear that the next step to creating a balanced, stable housing market is to massively increase public and community-led building in this country. 

We applaud the move to increase the amount of state houses being built, and for funding more iwi-led housing developments in the recent Budget, but it’s not yet enough. 

As the Government’s builder, Kāinga Ora needs to be empowered to build even more. This means relaxing its debt limit further, and instructing Kāinga Ora to keep building until there are enough affordable homes for everyone. This will be critical in building up our housing stock to overcome a restricted housing market that is locking so many first home buyers out. 

We would like our Government to empower the community housing sector to build affordable homes, for people to rent and buy. Community and non-profit housing providers have the expertise and experience to help ensure all New Zealanders have a warm, dry, affordable home. Kāinga Ora already underwrites “buying off the plans” for Kiwibuild and new market-rate homes, and this ought to be available to support community housing providers and iwi as well.

 

New planning rules need to create liveable communities

The opportunity to build up our housing stock in a way that allows communities to flourish exists with the upcoming changes to planning rules. Our Government is replacing the RMA with new laws, and this presents an opportunity to build up our communities so they’re truly thriving. 

New housing developments should be carefully planned to protect trees and open green spaces for everyone to enjoy, with more buses, trains, and safe walking and cycling paths. The new rules must restrict urban sprawl in the countryside where our food is grown, and encourage more new homes close to where people work and study. RMA reform should put the needs of people and nature first, not profit-driven developers.

We can protect our heritage, but also make way for new high-quality, energy-efficient, medium-high density homes. The Government can encourage compact, mixed use developments where people can safely walk and cycle between their homes, shops, schools, and community centres.

We encourage this to occur in a way that honours te Tiriti o Waitangi and ensures accessibility, green spaces, and mixed connected, medium to high density integration. The new rules need to empower local communities to shape their neighbourhoods. 

 

Housing is a Te Tiriti o Waitangi issue

We must honour te Tiriti when seeking to solve the housing crisis by massively upscaling the amount of homes here in Aotearoa, as such the Greens are calling for more Māori-led solutions with well-funded papakainga. 

This will empower Māori to build for Māori, helping to address the imbalance between Māori and non-Māori home-ownership and homelessness. Recent Budget funding makes a start, but much more is required.

 

Everyone has a right to accessible housing

Finally, we can make sure that our housing stock is accessible for all people. 

The Greens are calling for increased standards of accessibility when it comes to our public and community housing builds, so that all houses are able, from the start, to be easily converted into a home that meets the needs of whoever lives there. This doesn’t just benefit our disabled New Zealanders, but also the elderly, the injured, and the sick.  

 

We are calling on our Government partners to be bold

We are at a critical crossroads in this country. We can either ambitiously build up housing that ensures liveability, accessibility, and equality, or we can sit by whilst the gap between generations, the haves and the have-nots, continues to grow.

The Green Party urges you to take the opportunity that exists to create an Aotearoa that we are all proud of, and where all of us have the opportunity to have a decent place to call home. 

Together, we can make our communities the very best they can be, so they reach their full potential. 

 

Ngā mihi 

James Shaw and Marama Davidson
Co-leaders, Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand 

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