Housing crisis denial | The Jackal

23 Jun 2014

Housing crisis denial

If you're a generation X or Y'er like me, you would probably have been badly impacted by the housing crisis through higher rents and unaffordable houses.

Most Kiwi's in this age group will be keenly aware of the problems inherent in renting or purchasing a home and should realise that the current National government has absolutely no answers. In fact their entire response thus far has been to refuse to properly measure how many are owned by foreign speculators and blatantly lie about the amount of houses being built.

Of course building houses isn't the only answer to affordability, because the already overheated housing market will ensure any new builds will also be unaffordable. The drip feeding of new builds will ensure they'll be as overpriced as houses already for sale. Basically under the current settings not enough houses can be built fast enough to ensure market supply balances things out on the demand side.

None of that seems to register with the right wing though. While Nick Smith is busy lying about 10,000 houses being built in Auckland, when the actual figure is zero, the more deluded right wing propagandists are busy trying to say there isn't a problem at all.

On Saturday, the stupendously deluded Muriel Newman wrote:

When no-one knows who owns one in five New Zealand houses, it becomes impossible to make serious assertions about the rate of home ownership.

As a result, claims by Statistics NZ, that the Census shows home ownership rates have fallen from 66.9 percent in 2006, to 64.8 percent in 2013, are simply not credible.

She's basing this assertion on an article by Michael Littlewood, who wrote:

There are too many gaps in the questions asked in the 2013 Census (and earlier equivalent questions) for us to be certain about any recent trends in home-ownership rates.  The gaps mean we have no ownership information for about 362,000 of all dwellings; that’s 20.7% of all 1.76 million dwellings on Census night in 2013.

Basically these idiots are trying to say that the statistics are wrong and therefore nothing needs to be done. They're of course older New Zealanders who have benefited from the housing bubble and want to pull the ladder up behind them.

Clearly it's highly lucrative to trap younger people in rental accommodation for the foreseeable future. That's before you equate any social cost from declining home ownership rates and a loss of community, which should be of concern to any government that actually gives a damn.

The obvious problem with their argument is that the home ownership rate is calculated with the amount of people who actually own and reside in their homes. It doesn't actually matter to this statistic who owns the non-owner occupied houses.

This is such an obvious problem with Newman and Littlewood's reasoning that I'm amazed their articles have been allowed to be published. Apparently Littlewood is even some sort of professor at the University of Auckland, LOL! All I can say is thank god the Act party is in terminal decline.

So just to reiterate...the statistic showing a decline in home ownership isn't concerned with who owns those other houses. They could be owned by foreign or New Zealand speculators or the man on the moon for all it matters to that statistic.

The decline in home ownership isn't a recent trend either, it's been happening since 1991, about the same time Rogernomics kicked in. That's 23 years of decline without any proper governmental intervention in what is clearly a broken system.

The important thing here is that home ownership rates are in decline in New Zealand and have been for a long time. The main reason for that decline is an overpriced market compared to our low waged economy. Many Kiwi families can no longer work themselves into enough savings to purchase a home as easily as before. Many are simply struggling to even meet the day to day cost of living because of the poverty trap that by all accounts, like housing affordability, is also getting worse.

Newman goes on to say that market prices are solely determined by supply and demand, completely ignoring the problem of speculation based on what a house might be worth in the future. She also tries to place the blame entirely on councils and restrictive planning rules. However most councils have revised the consenting processes so they're both faster and cheaper. There is no doubt that the time for governments to be passing the buck has ended.

So all in all a failed argument from the right wing about why their inaction is justified. Time to get a proactive government that's willing to build New Zealand into the 21st century.

Further reading:

Green Party Housing Policy - Living Well (PDF)

Labour Party Housing Policy - Kiwibuild (PDF)