Housing Financialization And Homelessness Taints The Far Side Of The World

An attractive clapboard bungalow with an amazingly large yard
State houses at Arapuni Hydro Works photo by Archives New Zealand is licensed under CC BY 2.0
A once-upon-a-time photo of public housing in New Zealand. Today the vulnerable and the homeless must compete for housing against a red hot free market as well as a national housing program for the middle classes.

New Zealand’s housing crisis received some mixed attention a couple of years ago, with the announcement of a national scheme to address the issue with the catchy title of Kiwibuild. It was certainly ambitious, so ambitious in fact that critics soon pointed out that the volume of housing proposed exceeded the construction capacity of the entire nation.1

Nevertheless, Kiwibuild continued forward in fits and starts, falling prey to numerous hiccups, including unmet production schedules. However, Kiwibuild managed to preserve its most unexpected surprise until the moment its first unit was complete and made available to the public.

To the astonishment of an international audience, and more particularly to a significant portion of New Zealand’s own population, the winner of this prize was a doctor and his partner, an advertising executive.2

It had somehow escaped notice by most that the New Zealand government was addressing a national affordability crisis by choosing to build housing within reach of middle-class Kiwis who were having difficulty finding housing suitable to their station, or available near their work.

Low and no income State (public/social) housing continued to be built through a modest program that was falling farther and farther behind in meeting demand.

Fast forward a couple of years, and Kiwibuild carries on. Any hope that it might have a trickle down effect to reduce housing costs for lower income citizens has not materialized. Meanwhile, the global financialization of housing by speculative investment has created a hot housing market in the nation, with prices rising rapidly beyond the pocketbooks of a growing number of Kiwis. Not surprising, then, to learn that homelessness is steadily rising.

Now New Zealand, coming a little late to this international low income affordability crisis, has finally taken notice. Read more in 1news: Public housing ‘absolutely critical’ amid red hot property market, Housing Minister says

Footnotes

  1. Try: New Zealand’s Kiwibuild ‘Affordable’ Housing Stumbles Out Of The Starting Gate
  2. Try: The Lightbulbs Go On In New Zealand: Oh . . . You Mean THAT Kind Of Affordable Housing

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