The Government has finally accepted that it can't fix Auckland's desperate shortage of affordable houses unless it puts taxpayers' money into building them.

Ministers have been frustrated by the glacially slow pace of affordable housing developments in the city despite the creation of special housing areas in which developers can get speedy resource consents in exchange for promises to build a proportion of affordable housing.

The only special housing area where more than a handful of affordable houses have been built is at Weymouth. It's no coincidence that it is also the only SHA where the Government put money in - a $29 million grant from a social housing fund which is now being phased out.

Elsewhere, ministers assumed private developers would willingly build houses to sell at below-market prices. It hasn't happened.


A $200 million loan for the Tamaki Redevelopment Company is finally some serious money.

It's a signal that ministers want fast action. But there's an obvious tension between this drive for speed and the need to win community support. Ministers now admit that the first stage of redevelopment in northern Glen Innes was handled badly. In that process, still going on, Housing NZ is removing or demolishing 156 houses, selling the vacant sites to a private consortium, and buying back 78 of the 260-plus new homes being built on the land.

Tenants have been forced to leave their homes before new houses were built for them. The result has been bitter protests.

The redevelopment company is now doing it better. It has been asking residents what they want, and building childcare centres and other facilities that people ask for.

But the residents have not been asked if they wanted the company to be their new landlord. Even the company did not ask to take over existing houses, but it has agreed to do so because of the Government's rush to build new houses.

Auckland does need new affordable houses quickly, and it's good that ministers have learned that it requires money.

But if the houses are imposed again on powerless tenants against their will, we will have learned only one of the two lessons we need to learn.