James Shaw –
The price of the average house in Auckland recently rose above $1 million.
I think that’s ridiculous and shows that the housing market is broken.
Every person should know that if they work hard and save up, they can afford to buy their own home.
But how can a young family in Auckland do that, when even the average house costs over $1 million?
The truth is that people earning normal incomes just cannot afford to buy their own home in our biggest city anymore.
If we look at a teacher, a nurse, or a police officer, they might earn $50,000-$60,000 a year. There is absolutely no way that they could buy a decent home for their family in Auckland on that salary. But we need teachers, nurses, and police officers in Auckland. They are vital for the city to function properly.
Businesspeople have started telling me that they are worried about attracting staff to Auckland, because housing is too expensive.
In the meantime, rents are rising and families who rent can be pushed from house to house every 12 months.
Children would have to move schools and people find it hard to put down roots in their communities.
What can be done to fix housing? The National Government has had eight years to fix it, and they have failed.
Fixing the problem
But if we change the government, we will know what to do.
Firstly, we need to fix the rental housing market.
The Green Party is working to change the tenancy laws so that people who rent get longer term security. This would allow people to call their rented house a home.
We also think that rent rises should be more transparent. When a bank raises someone’s mortgage payments, they must explain why and how they calculated the new payments. We think renters should get that same transparency when landlords raise rents.
But the big goal is still home ownership.
Auckland is 40,000 homes short of what it needs to meet demand, and in addition, needs about another 15,000 new homes built every year just to keep up with population growth.
The market has not been able to build that many homes, which is why the Government needs to build more houses.
We also have a problem with property speculation in Auckland.
I believe that first and foremost, houses are for meant for occupation.
It is natural that homeowners might make a reasonable profit if they sell their house and move elsewhere, but making a profit should not be the main reason for buying a house but to create a home for yourself and your family.
Capital Gains Tax
That is why the Gree Party will close the loopholes that allow property investors to make a lot of money at the expense of home buyers. We’d also like to see a capital gains tax (excluding the family home). Every dollar people earn by working for wages or a salary is taxed. We think that it’s fair that the money property speculators earn on houses gets taxed too.
And finally, we think that too many young families who have managed to save up enough to buy their first home are being outbid by overseas investors.
The Green Party has a very simple principle: anyone who lives in New Zealand for a reasonable amount of time should be able to buy a home, but people who do not live here shouldn’t be able to.
We think that is fair.
There are lots of things that can be done to fix the housing crisis, but the National government is not doing enough.
That is why we need to change the government.
James Shaw is Co-Leader of Green Party and its Spokesman for Climate Change and Economic Development.