New Zealand's newest Ministry will bring "leadership and focus" to the country's housing and urban development scene, its Minister said.
Phil Twyford this morning opened the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – a new Government department aiming to "restore the basic right to healthy, affordable housing for all New Zealanders."
But the Opposition is already labelling the department a dud, and housing lobby groups have questioned how effective it will be.
Starting today, the Ministry will be the lead adviser on housing and urban development issues.
This means HUD, and its Acting Chief Executive Andrew Crisp, will be responsible for implementing the Government's plan to address homelessness, increase both the public and private housing supply and to make existing homes warmer and healthier.
As well as this, it will take the lead on the Government's KiwiBuild project.
Its funding, according to Twyford, will be sourced from the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, the Ministry of Social Development and the Treasury.
He said HUD will be working closely with those departments, as well as Housing NZ, Corrections NZ and Te Puni Kōkiri.
"We need to focus Government efforts because the housing shortage is hurting New Zealanders. Too many people are homeless, in poor-quality housing or locked out of home ownership," Twyford said today.
He said housing was too important and too complex to be split across different Government agencies.
In terms of its capability, HUD will provide "strategic advice" to the Government on housing issues, as well as driving its development strategies, according to a fact sheet on the new ministry.
But National's Housing Spokeswoman Judith Collins does not think the new Ministry will achieve all Twyford wants it to.
Although she agrees it's good to have a ministry which is solely tasked housing and urban development, unless it deals with the Resource Management Act (RMA) – "I don't expect anything much is going to happen from it."
RMA is currently under the umbrella of the Ministry for the Environment.
The Property Institute Chief Executive Ashley Church said the HUD "is unlikely to work" and will "ride roughshod" over the private development of housing.
"We applaud the objective, but we don't think the HUD is the right vehicle to achieve that," referencing housing supply issues.
He said a competitive model, whereby different departments compete with each other for housing development, should be used and it would help address supply issues.
"This would lead to much more housing developments in Auckland."