Auckland housing 'dangerously' unaffordable - councillor

2:09 pm on 6 November 2020

Increasing numbers of professionals, working families and older people are being shut out of the Auckland housing market, a new report says.

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Photo: 123rf

Auckland Council's Planning Committee discussed the report yesterday and looked at options for improving the housing situation.

The report presented research showing between 2013 and 2018, there was a 35 percent increase in the number of households in the "intermediate housing market" - meaning at least one person was in paid work, but they could not afford to buy a house and were not eligible for social housing.

Two years ago, there were 89,190 Auckland households in rental properties with workers unable to buy a home.

"The intermediate housing market now includes more professionals, working families and older people," the report said.

"Managers and professionals make up 71 percent (14,500) of the recent growth in the intermediate housing market."

Māori were disproportionately affected by the lack of affordable housing, the report said.

"High rent and discrimination in the rental market can mean more Māori are marginalised in high-poverty neighbourhoods in poor-quality, cold, damp and/or mouldy housing."

The report said Māori were missing out on the benefits of home ownership, including the ability to accumulate wealth and transfer this to future generations.

The shortage of affordable and public housing has been an ongoing issue in South Auckland. According to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, the number of people in South Auckland on the housing waiting list increased by 36 percent to 2987 in the year to June.

The report suggested asking the government to allow areas to be zoned as "inclusionary", so a share of homes in new developments would have to be affordable for people on low to medium incomes.

Councillors asked for a report on inclusionary zoning and decided to talk with the government about the legislative changes needed for it to be introduced.

But Manurewa-Papakura Ward councillor Daniel Newman voted against the proposal and said it was not the role of the council to address the problem of housing affordability.

"I understand the sentiment. We're going to talk about inclusionary zoning because it's a nice thing to do," Newman said. "But the council needs to leave this stuff alone, because the government doesn't require it of us."

He said the council should instead focus on its core roles of providing water, stormwater and community facilities.

Chris Darby at a Council meeting about the Unitary Plan. 10 August 2016.

Auckland Council Planning Committee chairperson Chris Darby says the high cost of housing in the city needs to be addressed. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

But committee chairperson Chris Darby said something had to give.

"A lot of our young people don't see a future in Auckland. That is going to empty out the talent from this city."

Darby said while the number of new houses was at record levels, the cost of housing had not been adequately addressed.

"Housing affordability is now at dangerous levels."

Mayor Phil Goff supported inclusionary zoning.

Monte Cecilia Housing Trust chief executive Bernie Smith was not surprised by the council report's findings.

He said for a family with an annual income of between $80,000 to $100,000, at least half of that was going on food and rent.

"So there's nothing left to save for a deposit for a house," Smith said.

"With older people a 25-year mortgage isn't an option - they won't even be on the planet in 25 years."

Increasing rents and living costs were adding to the problem, Smith said.

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