16 Jan 2013

Finance minister rejects Auckland housing criticism

11:17 pm on 16 January 2013

Finance Minister Bill English has rejected criticism that the Government is not doing enough to deal with a housing boom in Auckland.

Mr English says it will build 1000 new state houses over the next year or two to help struggling families and new private property developments will alleviate the pressure on housing in the city.

The median house price in Auckland is now $535,000 - a rise of 10.5% between December 2011 and December last year.

Major Campbell Roberts, the Salvation Army's director of social services, says high house prices have a negative impact - particularly on low-income families.

He says Housing New Zealand is struggling to provide homes for applicants and is instead referring people to the Salvation Army as the cost of buying and renting in Auckland skyrockets.

Major Campbell told Radio New Zealand's Summer Report programme on Wednesday it is inappropriate for the agency to have to send people to the community sector for help and wants to see housing made the Government's top priority.

Labour Party leader David Shearer says Government needs to step in to help first-home buyers as property prices in Auckland surge.

Mr Shearer told Radio New Zealand's Summer Report programme on Wednesday not enough is being done to accommodate low- to middle-income buyers and renters.

He said his party wants to introduce a national policy standard that streamlines consents for affordable housing and it is committed to building 100,000 houses over the next 10 years.

Finance Minister Bill English said on Wednesday the Government will build more state homes in Auckland to help families in need.

As well, Mr English said it has been talking to the Auckland Council about changing planning processes to ensure that smaller, low-cost houses are built.

The minister said making more land available for new housing developments will also take the pressure off house prices.