1. A housing debate in Wellington
This week there was a debate in Wellington hosted by Rev Charles Waldegrave. The two speakers were the Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson and economist Shamubeel Eaqub. Here is a link to the debate. Note how many times Grant Robertson nodded as Shamubeel spoke.
2. Some sensible questions from a Christian leader in this City
There has been really interesting dialogue between Pastor Chris Chamberlain of the Oxford Terrace Baptist Church and his local MP Duncan Webb. The letter reflected the thoughts of somebody deeply entrenched in the delivery of services for the poor. Below is Chris’ letter. Duncan has replied I have written to him and asked for clarification of one of his responses he gave to Chris. We will meet to discuss Housing matters in the near future.
Here’s Chris’s letter:
I am continuing to follow the NZ housing issue with interest and concern. I have some observations following this week’s announcement. The short version is “lacklustre”. I’m not a politician or an economist, but I am a people person, and work with others who care deeply for people. So, what I write comes from that basis:
- In its origins, the Labour Party was radical, and under MJ Savage acted in an era of housing crisis with inspirational plans. I do not see that happening today. I applaud the incremental push against the housing speculators and investors but cannot understand the conservative restraint embedded in the mild changes being announced. It is not enough. There is a sense that if both ends of the spectrum are annoyed with you, you’re about right. After Tuesday, the wealthy are complaining about the announcement, and so too are the advocates for the poor. This is a not the way for radicals. For me, the poor need to be prioritised more.
- There does not seem to be a great deal of help in this latest announcement for the charitable housing sector. We repeatedly have been offering to step strongly into this crisis to partner with the government in the building of houses. In my last conversation with the Prime Minister and Housing Minister I outlined our very small contribution. I also stated that if there was government help forthcoming, we would build more houses for those who need long term help in housing, the poor. But we need more help to succeed. I agree that the land and infrastructure funding just announced are helpful although it is only $3.8b compared with covid-19 costing us $50b… In the meantime, our ‘shovel ready’ project seems to slip between the cracks. Community housing providers are proven, and willing, and waiting. The government does not have to have all of the answers to the housing crisis. Supply needs to be found from multiple providers.
- My own three adult children seem to be underwhelmed by this week’s announcement. They are middle class, educated, pakeha, mainstream. They are saving hard. They are renting. And they are depressed by their housing prospects. Finding a suitable house for around $500,000 in Christchurch remains a huge hurdle. They will likely need the finance of their parents to buy a house. But we are hardly super wealthy! I worry deeply about those who are less well off than us. These are the ones who rent long term. And this announcement will be a bad deal for those who rent. Rents will only go up. It is not going to dramatically change supply.
- Tax us! I welcome a higher tax rate. I welcome a CGT. How many houses does one person need? Tax me when I buy a second and any subsequent house! Tax is not a burden, it is a responsibility when we live in a civil society. I do not accept that I am paying too much tax. I also note that several high profile rich-lister types have publicly state this also. The ten year shift to the Bright Line just announced is simply not enough in this tax realm, in my humble view! Many will simply wait till year 11 and then sell.
- Be more radical. Our NZ housing arrangements are not nearly creative enough just yet. We need to go up, not out. We need to intensify in the cities, and incentivise building in outlying towns. We need to have multiple models of ownership, and currently we do not. We need to have multiple models of development including the celebration of the charitable sector who want to help to solve this. We need less government and local authority controls, and more ‘can-do’. In fact to be property radical, what we really need is a significant house price decrease. For the ‘family home’, this will be largely acceptable as we are simply sitting in the same market, if in fact we need to sell our home and buy another.
- Coffee. Let’s do coffee soon! I really appreciate your accessibility, your willingness to engage, and your support of our church in the central city. We will later this year be again holding a fundraising dinner for our housing build, and I’ll get in invite to you for that soon. God bless you as you serve us.
Regards, Chris Chamberlain Senior Minister Oxford Terrace Baptist Church
3. Thoughts on housing by John Patterson
John read the article sent to us by Peter Beck (https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2021/26-march/news/uk/put-aside-party-differences-to-create-affordable-housing-welby-tells-politicians)
and here is his response:
This is a very good article and it’s excellent that the Archbishop is involved. It would be wonderful if he can get all parties to agree on a housing vision that is long term and beyond party politics. I’m not sure he can do all of that but I do know that the Archbishop still has a lot of clout over there. It looks like they are having similar housing problems as we are – not enough houses and all I keep saying is why don’t they/we build more? I know you must be sick of me going on about this but here it is again.
When I started work in the building industry the war had just finished and there was an enormous mess to clean up from one end of the country to the other with millions of people needing to be rehoused by a building industry starting off again from scratch. What they did to fix this enormous problem was to make it even bigger by knocking down all the houses in the slums of the big cities that had missed the bombings.
When the war finished there was no building industry, nearly all of the tradesmen were in the armed services and no builder’s merchants anywhere but houses had to be built. They started by building council houses all over the place. The first council houses built in Crawcrook/Ryton was Parkfield where Anne and I lived. The war finished in 1946 and the people started moving into the houses in Parkfield in 1947.
Attached is a photo of our house as it is today. The garage was built after we left but everything else is the same. They are well built 3-bedroom houses with 2 big rooms down stairs. There were 2-bedroom houses as well and old people’s bungalows. For the whole estate there was only 3 plans and this is what makes the difference with here. There were estates like this built all over the place. My old school mate Jack Kelly moved into Parkfield in 1947 and he still lives there. Most of these houses are privately owned now.
The local authorities built them and, as time went on, they sold them off. They wouldn’t have got anywhere if they had left it to private enterprise. For some reason over here, every house has to be different making the overall time of building each house and the cost, absolutely ridiculous. So, as I said when Garry asked me to write about how we built houses in the 1970s, I said why can’t they do that now? I will repeat it and say this is what we did over 70 years ago, why can’t they do that now?