28 Jan 2015

John Key to outline plan for social housing

8:33 am on 28 January 2015

The Prime Minister will confirm today how many more state houses will be sold under the Government's social housing plan.

Prime Minister John Key announces his third-term Cabinet.

Mr Key said he would set out the mix between new housing providers and Housing NZ. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

In his first major speech of the year, John Key will detail the plan to shift more responsibility for social housing to community providers.

There'll be live coverage of John Key's speech here.

The Government sold about 1000 state homes last year and has previously indicated it could sell up to 20,000 more. It said one third of the state's 68,000 homes are in the wrong place or are the wrong size for housing needs.

Mr Key said he would indicate in his state of the nation speech in Auckland today exactly how many more would be sold.

"I'll be broadly giving you an indication of what we think the make up of social housing will look like and the broad mix between new housing providers and Housing New Zealand."

Some houses may go to community providers, others could end up in the hands of private landlords, but the overall focus was to put more people in social housing.

"Might be new territory for New Zealand but it is not new territory internationally, said Mr Key.

"I mean the UK, Australia, they use a range of different providers and I think it makes sense.

"It is no different from saying that in New Zealand's history we've either had Housing New Zealand or councils providing that kind of accommodation. Now we are saying that there are not-for-profit community groups that could do the same."

Mr Key told Morning Report he would not not guarantee that all the money from the sale of the houses woudl go directly to the provision of more social housing.

"That's not really the test. The test for me are there more families in New Zealand accommodated as a result of this policy.

"The answer to that is without doubt, there will be.

"That's the bottom line guarantee from the Government."

Green Party housing spokesperson Kevin Hague said shifting responsibility for housing vulnerable New Zealanders to charities and selling state homes would not help more people.

He said unless the Government's plan resulted in more affordable houses being built it would make the crisis in affordable housing worse, not better.

Kevin Hague said the Government was just flogging off more assets.

"The Government has refused to commit to using all of the proceeds from the sale of these state houses for housing purposes."

Labour Party housing spokesperson Phil Twyford said he expected the Government would announce an extension to rent subsidies so private landlords could access them.

"The Government likes to talk about the Salvation Army and community housing providers, but it is simply dressing up a policy that will give private landlords a subsidy to provide social housing."

Mr Key said the plan was a more sophisticated way of dealing with the problem without the Government spending more money.

In January 2013, Mr Key announced in his state of the nation speech that Housing New Zealand would build 2000 new houses by December 2015. As at the end of last year, only 274 had been built.

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