24 Feb 2021

Progressive Home Ownership Scheme houses just 12 families in seven months

5:10 pm on 24 February 2021

The government is under pressure after having housed just 12 families under its Progressive Home Ownership Scheme since its official launch seven months ago.

National Party housing spokesperson Nicola Willis.

National Party housing spokesperson Nicola Willis says the PR for the scheme is out of touch with reality. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

An additional 78 families have been contracted to the scheme, and another 25 families will soon be moving into apartments built in Queenstown.

Housing Minister Megan Woods said she was proud of the scheme. The National Party labelled it an embarrassment.

National Party housing spokesperson Nicola Willis said the fact the housing minister was showing off about 12 houses beggared belief.

"It's astounding to me that the minister has taken the time and money to put together a PR video spinning this when what people want her to focus on is increasing housing supply."

Willis said the video was out of touch.

"To be showing off about 12 houses, well there are hundreds of thousands of Kiwis who desperately want their own home and they know they have a better chance of winning lotto than getting into this scheme."

Woods defended the number, saying it could take up to three years for someone to go through the process.

She said it was much different than buying a house through conventional means.

"This is about working with families who often have high levels of debt, it's about not only repaying that debt, it is working to establish a good credits history, a savings history and then working to ensure that a bank will lend to this family," she said.

Housing Minister Megan Woods.

Housing Minister Megan Woods says the process to house someone under the scheme is different than simply buying a house. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Woods said the government planned to move between 1500 and 4000 families into home ownership through the scheme.

New Zealand Housing Foundation chief executive Dominic Foote was happy with the progress, given the scheme had to start from scratch.

"Things can always be faster, but the speed also depends on accessibility to land, building contractors and working with families to get them ready to move into a progressive home ownership property, so there is always time you've got to factor into these initiatives," Foote said.

He said the government's $17 million of funding the foundation had received would be crucial to get the families they were working with into homes.

He did think, however, that the process could be sped up if agencies did not have to spend a huge chunk of time sourcing land and getting consents.

"My desire would be to actually have the housing foundation and other community housing providers partner with the likes of Kāinga Ora who have the remit to do large scale redevelopments," he said.

"How can we partner with them to work with them to purchase land and not have the same time constraints that a private vendor has?"

Now the scheme is up and running, he was expecting the number of families getting into their own home would start to ramp up.

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