Building more affordable housing and forcing landlords to ensure their rental properties are healthy are top of Labour’s priorities, its leader says.
Speaking at the party’s annual conference in Auckland today, David Shearer said: “If you're a young person today, you look at the cost of houses and you despair."
He blamed high house prices for the number of young people moving to Australia.
Shearer said Labour would put 100,000 families into their first home, with a 10-year building programme of entry-level houses, called KiwiBuild.
“At the peak of last decade, about 30,000 new homes were built a year. Now it’s less than half that. These are the missing rungs on the housing ladder. And it shows what an active and responsible government can do to help,” he said.
The start-up cost of the building programme will be financed by issuing government stock called Home Ownership Bonds. It is estimated $1.5 billion will be needed to begin the programme.
Money made by selling the houses would then finance the construction of more.
Shearer said: “The houses will be compact in size. Some will be stand-alone dwellings and others apartments. All of them will be good quality and energy efficient.”
First-home buyers who have saved a deposit will qualify for the scheme.
Shearer said he had spoken to Auckland Mayor Len Brown. Labour would also introduce a national policy statement under the RMA to ensure that planning rules and consenting decisions supported affordable housing.
“Building 100,000 new houses will create training opportunities for apprenticeships, more jobs and give a $2 billion dollar a year boost to the economy.”
He said another priority for Labour would be to introduce minimum standards for rental properties through a Healthy Homes Guarantee, forcing landlords to ensure properties were healthy, insulated and well heated.
“It’s time for poor quality houses to be brought up to scratch with minimum standards.”