Housing Minister Megan Woods said there would be "no large policy U-turns" on housing after October's election and overturning foreign investment restrictions was not planned.
Addressing Property Council NZ's residential summit being held online today from Auckland, she reiterated the Labour Party's housing policy, saying it would not change post-election. Conference host Mary Lambie asked Woods questions, relayed online.
"In terms of Labour's policy, there won't be any large U-turns around that and our policy objects around ensuring we're continuing to increase the supply of public housing. That's something we've achieved very well on in this term of Government. In fact we have exceeded our targets in that area. We are not giving up on the way in which the Government can assist in the supply of affordable housing," Woods told the conference being attended by more than 400 people.
KiwiBuild had needed to be "re-set as it didn't meet all the targets we wanted to do" but 400 homes had been completed and people were now living in them, she said. "I've personally seen lives that have been transformed."
• Megan Woods and Darryn Webb on Hamilton Covid isolation escapees
• Case against Energy Minister in court as gas company claims exploration ban 'breached rule of law'
• Covid 19 coronavirus: Megan Woods signals changes to managed isolation after recent escapes
• Covid 19 coronavirus: Megan Woods says charging for managed isolation a 'fair approach'
More than 1000 new state homes were under construction "and this is hard and challenging stuff but that doesn't mean we will retreat from it because this is the right thing to do".
Last October, KiwiBuild joined Housing New Zealand and HLC to form Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities.
Woods said no changes were planned to restrictions on foreigners entering New Zealand property.
"We as a Government made some decisions early on that won't be overturned in terms of residential foreign investment in housing," Woods said.
She was referring to Overseas Investment Act amendments passed two years ago which banned non-citizens and non-permanent residents from buying housing and lifestyle properties, althought Australians and Singaporeans get special exemptions.
Woods said housing affected many other policy areas, including health, transport and climate change.
Asked how she saw housing supply post-Covid, she said: "We are determined that housing doesn't look like it did post-GFC where we saw a retreat from house [building]. Affordable housing offers high density, built around public transport, and de-carbonisation."
Asked about the progressive home ownership fund, she said work was being carried out with a large group of community housing providers. Two contracts had been signed and work was being carried out to progress more.
The Government's $400m fund aims to help between 1500 and 4000 families buy their own homes, targeting low to median income households to join a housing provider to get into rent to buy, or leasehold arrangements.
Māori, Pacific peoples and families with children are the targets.
Woods was asked if her party supported the build to rent concept which was subject of a keynote opening address from Sydney this morning by Chris Key of Greystone Asia Pacific.
Woods said the build-to-rent concept had emerged in a workshop lately and she was keen to progress it in a post-Covid environment.
"I really want to continue to work with the sector in terms of how the Government can work alongside. We do see there is a gap that sits between our public rental market and private rental market and build-to-rent can offer some really good solutions so it's an area that's the next big policy priority is making sure we're putting place the measures to stimulate that market in New Zealand," Woods told the delegates online. "What are the barriers? What can we do? I want to progress some of that work."
On August 7, she announced a new $350m residential development response fund, established to support the residential construction sector and to minimise the economic impact from Covid-19
That is to help to stalled or at-risk developments to get more affordable housing and provide jobs.
Projects are to be supported through the sharing of some of the increased Covid-19 related risks, with the fund backing developments through Government underwrites.
"As we saw following the global financial crisis when house building halved between 2008 and 2011, credit can be harder to access in uncertain economic times. We know from talking to the building sector there is a relatively solid pipeline of construction activity until the end the year, but the outlook beyond that is unclear," Woods said earlier this month.
"Providing assurance through the fund will ensure developers can keep building homes, and workers employed. It's estimated the fund will maintain around 15,000 jobs and the building of around 4000 new homes, that otherwise might not be built because of barriers to developers securing finance," she said.