Property editor of the NZ Herald

How to solve Auckland's housing crisis: New report out

The housing summit report is out. Photo/Doug Sherring
The housing summit report is out. Photo/Doug Sherring

A target of 14,000 new Auckland houses built a year, banning foreign buyers from buying existing places and tackling the construction sector duopoly are ideas put forward to solve the city's housing crisis.

Auckland Housing Summit organising committee chairwoman Leonie Freeman, said 130 people came up with solutions when the committee met last month. It has now issued its report.

In a recommendation that follows Australia's foreign investment regime, the report mooted "investigating changes to foreign ownership rules so foreign investors can only buy new homes".

In a section on housing delivery barriers, it cited "monopoly/duopoly on supply chain of materials", along with skilled labour, difficulties retaining skilled tradespeople, insufficient building scale and lack of private/public partnerships.

Freeman, former general manager of Housing New Zealand Corporation and a director of the $1.6 billion NZX-listed Goodman Property Trust, recommends establishing an independent not-for-profit organisation to tackle the issues. The summit was a start, not an end, she said this morning.

"This summit shows there's lots of people in the industry saying 'this isn't good enough' and leadership isn't being shown by Government or Auckland Council. Phil Goff released a report but what's happening with it? He chose not to support my idea, he didn't even meet us to discuss it," said Freeman.

The Auckland Mayoral Housing Taskforce report's key recommendations are:

• Developing at scale, which includes building through market dips;

• Unlocking the availability of land with appropriate zoning and infrastructure;

• Enabling efficiency and innovation in consenting and risk management.

Freeman was not a member of that taskforce but expressed confidence in last month's summit.

"It was a different approach. There were lots of initiatives discussed. There were people going away saying they were going to set up advocacy groups. It's another step forward," she said today.

The summit was the first independent, not-for-profit gathering examining the crisis. Organising committee members came from Massey University, Russell McVeagh, Knight Frank and the NZ Housing Foundation.

The report, titled Connecting Minds, Collective Action, said developers, lawyers, planners, architects, construction company and material supplier representatives, community housing providers and government officials attended the summit.

Overseas projects were examined, including the award-winning US-based 100,000 Homes Campaign, a national movement that housed 105,000 homeless Americans over a four-year period, the report said.

Neighbourhoods Alive in Canada and its practical steps to move from renting to home ownership and Opportunities Chicago, which resulted in 6000 public housing residents getting new jobs during a recession, were also cited.

One summit vision was to have all Aucklanders well housed by 2030 and to ensure the right for all residents of the city to live in an affordable home in their community. It recommended a housing accord where all political parties pulled together and agreed on core principles.

"We're acutely aware that in addition to the need for increased social housing in Auckland, those in the middle of the spectrum struggling to pay rent or purchase a home, also need accessible options," Freeman said.

"We're not going to get anywhere by using the same thinking that's got us here. Innovation and a cultural shift towards its role in creating communities is an essential part of the solution," she said.

Replicating good design on a larger scale, assisted financing options, addressing the costs of construction and speeding up the consent process were all identified as issues during the summit.

"We need to establish a new not-for-profit organisation that would be run in a disciplined and businesslike manner. While central and local government would be key stakeholders, the organisation would be neutral, driven by solutions rather than politics," Freeman said.

Such an organisation would be governed by a group of influential people, she said.

- NZ Herald

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