Christina Couling: A Rant on… NZ Housing
Brand new YWRC columnist Christina Couling is a former member of the YWRC board, a union organiser, as well as a fierce and passionate advocate for those in need. We'll be bringing you Christina's rants on a monthly basis in the name of starting conversations, and creating a safe space to have those conversations. Enjoy!
Are you a human? Do you want to live in a house? Same!
You guys, housing is really expensive and that’s a problem because it’s kind of essential. I’ve lived in a lot of crappy houses in my adult life (I used to have a sleep in a puffer jacket!), but when I was less old a few years ago, at least the crappy houses were affordable. Now I live in Auckland (I know, I know) and the cost of housing is an obvious problem.
The rental market is insane, with loads of people turning up to view not-that-great houses for $600 a week, in not-that-great areas of town. In the super fancy areas, houses are *actually* more than $1500 a week. If you can afford that price then awesome for you, but obviously lots of people can’t and it really makes it impossible to do anything fun because…no money.
Anyway, the problem with forcing people into an unaffordable rental cycle is that it’s really difficult to save for a house, despite what you might read in the Herald. And while buying a house isn’t the pinnacle of human achievement, or even particularly necessary if you’re able to inherit a shitload of money, it is how lots of Kiwis save for retirement, alongside any superannuation schemes. It’s also just one of the things we grow up thinking is in our future – the Kiwi dream and all that jazz.
I don’t really have all the solutions, but it doesn’t seem like a problem the powers-that-be can continue to let fester.
I do know there are a lot of empty homes in Auckland, just sitting there appreciating value for absentee owners. That probably does something like distort the housing market, but you’ll have to ask someone smarter than me to confirm that.
What it definitely does though is mean that families and young working people can’t live in them. Most families and young working people probably couldn’t afford to buy these places if they came on the market anyway, but considering that houses are built to house people then I reckon that’s probably what they should be used for.
I’ll just have to bullet point some things I’ve heard about that we should probably think about discussing as a country because I’ve run out of words/time/energy:
- Empty home taxes
- Compulsory requisition of empty houses
- Restricting multiple house purchases
- Minimum rental housing standards
- Rental price caps
- Whether we actually care about other people
Until next month!