Details wanted on homes plan

By Abi Thomas

Organisations working with low-income Northlanders are welcoming the Green Party's plans to get people into their own homes, but say the devil will be in the detail.

The Green Party has released its housing policy, which includes a plan for the Government to build houses for up to $300,000 in which families would live for a basic weekly payment and eventually own if they paid slightly more.

Chrissy McLoughlin, of the Tai Tokerau Emergency Housing Trust, said anything that made it easier for Northlanders to own their own homes was a positive, but she was unsure about the fine print of the Greens' policy.

"It depends on how the market will react in the future, and also whether the $300,000 would actually pay for the land as well," Ms McLoughlin said.

It also depended on whether the people in the houses were able to get their equity back if they chose not to buy, she said.

Whangarei Child Poverty Action Group spokeswoman Sherry Carne said the idea seemed good in theory, but she'd like to see the fine print before assessing how it would work.

She said owning a home was out of reach of more Northlanders.

"At least they [the Greens] are looking at stimulating the housing supply... it's good to see ideas are being thrown around."

Former Housing Minister and Whangarei MP Phil Heatley said the policy would lead to more debt without solving New Zealand's housing affordability crisis, and was dangerous for New Zealand in terms of the world economic situation.

"In the end they're either going to have to print money or borrow it - we're talking about billions - and with the international economy the way it is, it's toxic to go into debt."

He said it was also dangerous for the Greens to entice families into housing when they couldn't afford debt.

The scheme, targeted exclusively at families with dependent children, would not work, Mr Heatley said. He called it a "silver bullet" policy.

"We have to drive down the cost of housing for everybody and the only way you're going to do that is to build more houses, provide cheaper land and make the consenting process through the Resource Management Act more straightforward for everyone."

- Northern Advocate

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