Govt blames Covid-19 for small increase in new state homes

Maiki Sherman
Source: 1News

The Government is blaming Covid-19 restrictions for the tiny increase in the number of new state homes last year.

Just over 200 new homes were added to the national stock by Kāinga Ora, the Government agency that provides housing for those in need. Some say that number is hopeless.

Builder at construction site (file picture).

Annette Peed has overcome alcohol addiction, but is now one of many Kiwis fighting the battle of finding a place to call home.

She's spent five years on the social housing wait list and at the age of 67, she's all but had enough.

"I find it really hard and it does affect my health because I just want to be in one place," she told 1News.

"You just feel like 'oh what's the point?' You know, I've done all this work on myself, what the hell, what for?"

Napier Housing Coalition's Dawn Bedingfield said the situation was "devastating".

"There's nothing I can sort of do to help anyone," she said.

Kāinga Ora is trying to fix the problem building new homes, but it's also removing them because they're unsuitable or not fit for purpose.

In the first half of 2021 there were 718 new builds and 499 removed - a net gain of 219 extra state houses.

But in the second half of the year there were 406 new builds and 411 removed, leaving a deficit of five homes.

So, while Kāinga Ora may have added an extra 214 new homes in total last year, it pales in comparison to the almost 4000 people who joined the wait list in 2021. In total there are nearly 25,000 applicants needing a home.

"For everyone that gets a house there's another person just as desperate," Bedingfield said.

"This is unacceptable," National's housing spokesperson Nicola Willis told 1News.

"The state housing provider is meant to be delivering more homes and yet in the past six months it removed more than it actually built."

However, the Government said National was being disingenuous as lockdowns and supply chain issues were at play.

"One of the main priorities of this Government has been when we came into office and were facing a housing crisis, when the last National government had continuously sold off our state housing, was to rebuild our public housing stock and we've done that at an incredible rate," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Community providers are adding to the new social housing stock, including a 19-property complex in Lower Hutt opening in June.

But even they agree the Government needs to do more.

"They can't do it by themselves, you know, they have to engage with other community providers hand some of that money over," Ali Hamlin-Paenga, of Kahungunu Whānau Services, said.

Willis said National would back those providers and give them Crown capital funding.