On Thursday morning, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared that fixing New Zealand's housing crisis "is a key focus of this Government".
Ardern made the pledge at a Nelson press conference where she gave details about the Government's state housing plan - the same one it announced in May last year as part of Budget 2020.
The clapback was almost immediate. Opposition politicians labelled yesterday's announcement a "re-announcement" and "hopelessly inadequate".
Even Associate Minister of Housing Marama Davidson admitted the Greens were "frustrated".
Similar sentiments came from the front lines of the housing crisis.
"[The PM's announcement] was just totally underwhelming," Monte Cecilia Housing Trust chief executive Bernie Smith told RNZ's Morning Report. "Sadly there's no reflection of the growing housing wait register, you know, we should be looking at double these sorts of numbers to keep up with the growing need."
Nearly 22,500 people are now on the public housing waitlist.
An article about the PM's housing announcement by NZ Herald political reporter Jason Walls attracted plenty of feedback from our readers, too. Here's a representative sample:
I think she needs to stop making promises she can't keep. Wasn't this promise made last term and it's only got worse? Or maybe her saying this is a clever attempt to turn attention away from the fact we have no Covid vaccine despite a promise NZ would be one of the very first countries getting them.
- Jamie D
"We will fix the housing crisis in NZ" is even worse than saying "we will build 100,000 houses", which was genuine incompetence. This time it's totally cynical as they know it's impossible to fix it in Auckland without increasing taxes. A move hoping that we'll forget the front of the queue failure.
- Thierry M
Jacinda...So exactly what is going to be done for our young families and young couples that don't qualify for a state house? They can't save fast enough with rampant increases in unjustified house prices. What is your plan?
- Chris R
It's deeds not words that count.
- Geoff W
Bit rich for the government to blame National for "decades" of insufficient house building. They aren't really proposing anything philosophically different from National - just different spin. Meanwhile house prices go up 20% year on year...
- Joshua T
Amazing! The Govt is struggling to find the cash to solve NZ's greatest social problem - housing. Yet one of the greatest inputs in housing is all around us. Housing is booming! NZ, like the world is awash in cash. It just needs to be distributed, and used, better. That is the Govt's job. Move it.
- Alexander M
Just more empty promises. How and when does she plan on delivering these homes with building materials delayed in clogged ports, builders and tradies already committed for months ahead, council red tape and failing infrastructure?
- Gary W
Let's be honest. National did sell a lot of state housing but Labour has been in for a while now so that excuse wearing thin. Less talk more do.
- Mark M
Has this Government forgotten that they are actually in their SECOND term?
- Murray S
Same excuses same answer ive heard for years. While useful, this crisis has gone way past building a few more state houses. Need something transformational and to spend political capital. Lots of suggestions out there.
- Cheryl P
Some of our readers had their own ideas about how to tackle the problem:
Ban all foreign property investors. Match immigration to available houses / apartments. Landlords/investors to face punitive interest rates for purchases of existing houses. Government to become sole supplier of bulk land for subdivisions to eliminate land banking profits. Factory built houses.
- Richard M
he Reserve Bank needs to be able to define interest rate surcharges on mortgages so the benefit of a low OCR can be passed through to a first home buyer or productive business but withheld from a property investor who might only be able to get an 8% mortgage because of a surcharge.
- Richard M
Well they need to stop going on and on about affordable, warm, dry houses and start churning out low cost, basic but functional housing. The flat pack/prefab type and do that until the housing problem is eased. Anything is better than sleeping in the car.
- Kelvyn S
Time to look at a rent to buy scheme for state homes, helps people into homes and to build equity once they are housed. Probably mean the houses were personalised and taken care of. Oh that's right National proposed that already!
- Ali J
NZ does not have a house price issue. It has appallingly low productivity that holds the value of wages down. The Covid reset is a magnificent opportunity to lead the country into a better work and productive investment revolution. But no - that would mean bringing unions to heel. Can't do that.
- Christopher Tama M
Alongside the new state housing the government needs to rethink how they are tenanted. There should not be an expectation from tenants that these will be for life. Once a family has qualified to purchase a house they move out to free up space for a new tenent. No more lifetime tenancies.
- Denise F
Fix Auckland ports, hire more crane drivers to get the containers released that have the supplies to build these homes. Same old, same old.
- Kimberley W
Just get on with it Jacinda and Grant. Time to be really, really bold. 8000 is "Tiddly". Create a new "Housing Commission". Bowl over whole streets in "leafy central suburbs" ( PWA 1981?) Build quality multi-storey long-term rentals (25 year leases) for "ordinary folk". Give young people hope!
- Graeme S