As the late Norm Kirk put it, Kiwis don't ask for much: somewhere to live, somewhere to work and something to hope for. However, since his time finding somewhere to live has become a lot harder; a task that preoccupies us all, whether we're searching for a rental or a first home, or watching our children and whānau struggle in the search.
To support the people who need us most, we've announced $4 million for new initiatives to reduce homelessness in priority areas, of which Whangārei is one.
I am relieved that Whangārei's One Double Five Whare Awhina Community House – in partnership with Mahitahi Hauora, Whangārei Youth Space, Ngāti Hine Health Trust, and Pehiaweri Marae – is one of the organisations to receive a grant to work on youth homelessness.
Then, to deal with some of the longer-term issues, our Government has launched a new package of measures to increase housing supply, relieve pressure on the market, and tilt the balance towards first home buyers.
For a start, we're supporting more first home buyers, lifting the income caps on first home loans and grants. With a first home loan, buyers only need a 5 per cent deposit, rather than the 20 per cent deposit usually required. First home grants provide up to $10,000 to help people pull together their deposit.
We're also extending the bright-line test to make property speculation less attractive. Before the bright-line test, any profit on a house sale wasn't taxed. This encouraged speculators to "flip" properties; buying simply to wait for an increase in value and then sell for a tax-free return.
National introduced a two-year bright-line test five years ago, so if speculators "flipped" an investment property within two years they were taxed. Last term we increased that to five years, and now we're increasing it further to 10 years.
The bright-line test doesn't apply to the main family home or inherited property. This will give Kiwis a better chance at purchasing their first family home.
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Plus we're closing a tax loophole that allows speculators to offset their interest expenses against their rental income when they are calculating their tax.
Another important part of our plan is increasing housing supply. To support this, we've announced a new housing acceleration fund, to speed up the pace and scale of house building.
This fund is something local government and developers have been calling for, and will jump-start large-scale developments by funding vital infrastructure like roads and pipes.
We're also incentivising investment in new developments, rather than existing houses. People who choose to invest in a new house will be exempt from the latest changes to the bright-line test and interest deductibility, encouraging more people to invest in new builds.
At the same time, we're ensuring a skilled workforce to build more houses, extending our apprenticeship boost payment, which has already enabled businesses to retain or take on 21,000 apprentices to grow our construction sector.
There's no simple fix for the housing crisis, but together, these measures will make a real difference. If you want to talk about any of these initiatives, or any particular housing issues you are facing, please get in touch.
• Emily Henderson is the electorate Member of Parliament for Whangārei. She can be contacted at email@example.com