Anna is a reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Fewer homeowners in Tauranga Central

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Annette Scown says she may never be able to afford a house in the Bay. Photo/Ruth Keber
Annette Scown says she may never be able to afford a house in the Bay. Photo/Ruth Keber

The Labour Party has released statistics showing home ownership has fallen by 9.1 per cent in Tauranga Central, one of the biggest drops in the country.

The figures released yesterday showed home ownership dropped across most of Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty from the 2013 Census, compared to the 2006 Census statistics.

The Tauranga Hospital area (between Gate Pa, Tauranga Central and Tauranga South) showed the lowest home ownership rate of 44 per cent, with Bethlehem the highest of 82.4 per cent. Bethlehem also had the largest rise in home ownership across the Census data of 3.3 per cent.

Labour Party housing spokesman Phil Twyford said despite the data coming from 2013, the statistics were still relevant. "It is a very established trend and we know that even since 2013, home ownership has gotten even tougher in the Bay of Plenty and Tauranga, as we're seeing house prices going up so fast."

"I think Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty have been particularly hit because they have experienced the flow over from the Auckland housing crisis so we see people who cannot buy in Auckland, including investors, as opposed to owner-occupied houses," he said.

"Labour's plan to fix the housing crisis is to build large numbers of affordable homes for first home-buyers and to crack down on property speculators."

However, Housing Minister Nick Smith said the information given by the Labour Party on their website "lacks credibility".

"It is more about politics than solutions to our housing challenges.

"There is no question that we've got housing pressures in places like Auckland, Tauranga and Queenstown, where population growth is putting real pressure on the housing sector.

"The answer to that is to build more houses and that is where the Government's energy is focused. We've seen a record growth in residential construction across New Zealand, particularly in markets such as Auckland, Hamilton, and Tauranga where we are in the midst of the biggest building boom in New Zealand history."

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges said the home ownership rates had been declining gradually for a long period of time.

"Nevertheless, families can still get into home ownership and government initiatives are definitely helping. For example, the KiwiSaver HomeStart package is helping hundreds of young couples locally to get decent deposits together to buy their first homes.

"Things such as the Special Housing Areas, law changes, and the $1 billion fund we've set up are freeing up land supply in the Western Bay to create more housing for those who want it."

NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell said he thought the drop in home ownership would continue.

"I think it is a problem that is going to get worse. We need to look at getting back to a country where home ownership is high on the Government's priorities to ensure young people can actually own a little piece of their own paradise."

Papamoa woman Annette Scown said she thought she would never be able to afford a house in the Bay.

"Rent is taking over half my income, I am a single mum so what I am left with is to look after all my kids and making sure I can meet their needs."

She said it had taken two-and-a-half months to find her rental property.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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