National’s Housing Policy

It should be of no surprise to anyone that is not planning to go back to market rents for state house tenants. It was arguably the most unpopular (yet most misunderstood) of National’s policies in the 1990s. National did not plan to change back in either 2002 or 2005.

Phil Heatley has outlined some aspects of National’s policy.

Housing spokesman told a Housing Institute seminar in Waitakere yesterday that National would give back to Housing New Zealand tenants the right to buy their houses.

They had this right until the Labour Party won the 1999 election.

Labour call this privatisation but I think allowing state tenants to buy the homes they may have lived in for decades is a great thing.

“If they purchase their state home, we will replace that home within the housing stock so as to lift someone else off the waiting list,” he said.

“We won’t be running down the state housing stock. We acknowledge that we need it.”

If one has income related rents for state houses, then there will be great demand for them and hence stock does need to be maintained or increased. I personally prefer housing assistance being delivered to low income households regardless of who their landlord is – but that is now what the public will accept, so one has to make the current system work.

Labour’s Housing Minister, Maryan Street, told the seminar that 9 per cent of tenants already paid market rents because of their high incomes.

So no social benefit is being generated by those tenants being in Housing NZ houses. In theory they should be evicted to make room for a lower income family. But that is politically unviable. But National’s policy of allowing them to buy the state house will allow a new house to be purchased which can be targeted to low income families.

UPDATE: The Green’s Frog Blog say they support the policy as sensible and a good system for getting people into their own homes.

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