8 Jun 2018

Housing sector cautiously backs one-stop policy shop

5:02 pm on 8 June 2018

The housing sector is backing a government decision to establish a new standalone housing ministry to fix the housing crisis.

Building site in an East Auckland suburb

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development will incorporate units currently spread across the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment; Ministry of Social Development; and Treasury, into a one-stop policy shop on affordable housing, homelessness and large scale housing developments.

It will start operating from August.

Salvation Army social policy analyst Alan Johnson said a dedicated housing ministry that spoke with one voice was a step in the right direction.

"I don't think any of those ministries (on their own) have done housing well," he said.

Industry representatives such as the Registered Master Builders and Real Estate Institute agree a cohesive approach to housing should be helpful.

However, they also warn much more is needed to ensure the crisis can be fixed.

"Housing doesn't sit on its own," Registered Master Builders chief executive David Kelly said.

"It needs to be connected to the other broader issues related to the Resource Management Act, infrastructure and how local government works."

Housing strategist Leonie Freeman said it was crucial the new ministry also provide a detailed plan to show how policy decisions would translate into large scale housing developments.

"So we can understand and see what the housing plan is, what are the targets for key areas around the country, what are the milestones so that we know we're on track, and who is accountable for delivering this?" Ms Freeman said.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford said he would provide more details about the Urban Development Authority, which will be charged with delivering the KiwiBuild and large scale housing programmes, in the next few months.

The Salvation Army's Alan Johnson said in the short term dealing with homelessness was the top priority.

"Our view is we address homelessness first. KiwiBuild is an important medium term response that we need to make, but we just need to get on with building state houses and other forms of social housing because that is where the biggest need is," Mr Johnston said.

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