- WHERE TO NOW FOR KIWIBUILD?
- Ardern stands by 100,000-homes-in-a-decade target
- Yet only 83 are completed today
- Year One target was 1000 - she thought it was 10,000
- Ardern: "We haven't made any changes to any targets."
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was asked this morning about the progress of the Government's contentious KiwiBuild scheme, meant to yield 1000 finished homes by the end of next month. But so far only 83 homes are finished, a discrepancy of 917 new homes in the inaugural year. She has admitted the scheme "hasn't been at the pace we wanted." So given what appears to be the now-spectacular failure of KiwiBuild, has the PM finally admitted it's unachievable, backed down on the targets and revised the numbers? Is the 1000-home-first-year target abandoned, given it's plainly not achievable?
Ardern says the Government's planned 100,000-homes-in-a-decade target remains but has admitted the scheme "hasn't been at the pace we wanted."
Talking this morning to Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking, Ardern conceded progress had been slower than originally expected.
"It hasn't been perfect, it hasn't been at the pace we wanted but at least we are starting to see some changes," she told Hosking. "We haven't made any changes to any targets yet."
KiwiBuild's web site today shows just 83 homes finished.
But 1000-homes-in-a-year was the original inaugural target. The first year finishes next month on June 30.
Asked today if there was ever a target for the scheme, she said: "100,000, yes there was."
Asked if that was still the target, she said nothing had changed but she cited timing, indicating it was slower than originally expected.
"We had questions over our expectations on how quickly it would roll out. Our concern at that time was, of course, you'd expect a build programme takes time to build up. The idea that we'd build 10,000 in one year was never our..."
Corrected that the year-one target was not 10,000 but actually 1000, Ardern was then asked again about that first-year target and if that had been relaxed, given so little progress.
"No, but there were expectations around that. We have currently 400 under construction. There's no exact timelines for when those 400 that are currently being built will be completed," Ardern said.
She then encouraged a wider perspective than just the 1000-a-year target.
"Since we've been in office we now know first home buyers in the market from 18 per cent to 24 per cent. We have for the first time in a long time seen wage growth now outstrip house price growth. We have to fundamentally change the housing market," she said.
The KiwiBuild policy by Labour had also been trail-blazing, she indicated.
"No one has ever tried to partner with the private sector to build more houses."
Ardern's party policy said: "Labour's KiwiBuild programme will build 100,000 high quality, affordable homes over 10 years, with 50% of them in Auckland. Standalone houses in Auckland will cost $500,000 to $600,000, with apartments and townhouses under $500,000. Outside Auckland, houses will range from $300,000 to $500,000."
Yesterday, the Herald reported on how the Crown had been forced to buy 12 out of 83 new KiwiBuild homes in Auckland, Christchurch and Wanaka because the mandatory buy-back clause had been exercised by developers.
Judith Collins, National's housing spokesperson, predicted the Government would fall into a "black hole" financially if this kept up. Buybacks were not a good situation because all the homes built under the scheme should sell readily yet the Crown was being lumbered with expense through being forced to buy unsold homes all around New Zealand, Collins said.
The underwrite scheme involves the Crown fulfilling its promise to buy homes at a discounted rate from the builder if they did not sell within a certain timeframe of 60 days.
But a KiwiBuild spokesman defended the scheme, saying: "Twelve homes have been purchased through the underwrite, one of which has since been sold to a KiwiBuild buyer, in comparison to 79 homes sold to KiwiBuild buyers.
"The underwrite is working as intended, enabling affordable home building by acting as a backstop buyer. This guarantee enables developers to get funding to build the homes quicker, without having to wait for presales and means that they can release their capital quickly after completion, so they can get on and build more affordable homes," he said.