Last week I challenged Phil Twyford about why he has reduced the number of Housing New Zealand houses in Hastings by 12 when there are 300 people living in motels.
I did so because as the MP for Tukituki, I believe Hastings has been short-changed in the build programme, compared to Napier.
I am equally very happy to stand by my record as the previous mayor of Hastings for the areas I had responsibility for over the past 15 years regarding housing.
Four thousand eight hundred houses were consented, over 1000 sections were released and council twice considered but rejected the sale of pensioner housing stock.
Significant new land has also be signalled for residential development and I facilitated Papakainga housing rules which have resulted in over 120 whānau homes.
There is no justification that can explain how Napier gets 69 new state houses in the past 18 months under this Government and Hastings loses 12.
This is made worse because now we have around 300 Hastings people who are living in motels.
Equally, how can it be justified that 2.5 rugby fields of vacant fully serviced land sits idle in Hastings, meanwhile Housing New Zealand has built six houses in 18 months and sold or demolished 21.
There has been justifiable concern expressed about why the last Government demolished or sold some houses.
On my review these decisions were all made because long term demand was low. The Housing Register graph shows that for years until early 2017 the demand was low at around 60 people and the waiting list at any one time had stayed constant.
This indicated that despite people moving in and out of houses, the number of houses was correct. The current list is around 300 people.
Despite some asbestos and P contaminated houses being demolished and some surplus houses being sold to first home buyers, the stock size was about right for the demand. Equally, the demand had increased in Auckland in early 2017, so that is largely where the new HNZ houses were built.
The latest Housing Register shows exponential growth in demand. In my view there are two reasons for this.
The first relates to the booming economy and demand for labour. With very low unemployment seasonal work demand is being met by RSE workers and outside workers. Many businesses have now purchased normal rental properties to house such workers.
The second relates to legislative changes, combined with a peak in the property cycle, which have encouraged landlords to exit the sector.
While many of the houses have been purchased by first home buyers, the rental pool has dropped. Twice a week I hear from investors who have simply taken the cash and decided to reinvest in other places.
On the official numbers, it appears the HNZ stock in Hastings will be increased in total by five houses in two years.
This is completely inadequate when the demand is so high. I am regularly helping people with housing and it is a real shame there are so few options.
I am also very aware that a number of Hastings families are living in Napier motels and this is making it very difficult for children to attend their normal Hastings school.
Against this backdrop there is no excuse for the current poor performance in Hastings.
- Lawrence Yule is MP for Tukituki