Hundreds of families in Auckland are living in cars garages and even a shipping container as a housing crisis fuelled by rising property prices forces low-income workers out of private rental accommodation.
Charity groups have warned that as the southern hemisphere winter approaches most of the premises have no electricity sewage or cooking facilities.
‘This is not people who haven’t been trying.
They have been trying very hard and still they’re failing’ said Campbell Roberts of The Salvation Army – who has worked in South Auckland for 25 years.
‘A few years ago people in this situation were largely unemployed or on very low-incomes.
But consistently now we are finding people coming to us who are in work and have their life together in other ways but housing is alluding them’.
Auckland’s housing market is one of the most expensive in the world – with property prices increasing 77.5% over the last five years (this growth has now slowed) and the average house price fetching over NZ$940,000 (£440,000) – according to CoreLogic New Zealand.
Other ideas include abandoning minimum apartment sizes – mandatory balconies for apartments – and minimum parking requirements.
Auckland Council is moving away from the days of tiny ‘shoebox’ apartments with minimum sizes of 30sq m for studio apartments in the city centre – and 40sq m outside the CBD in a proposed new rulebook for the Super City.
A draft report by the Productivity Commission – titled Using Land for Housing – has also recommended the Government start paying rates on Crown land and drop its opposition for tolls and congestion charges on existing roads to fund new assets.
Commission chairman Murray Sherwin said a more aggressive approach was needed to ensure the issue of land and housing supply was addressed – and to provide infrastructure.
Rapid population growth combined with a land and housing shortage have contributed to a 20 per cent jump in Auckland house prices in the year to May to a record median of $749,000.
Mr Sherwin said the largest housing development in Auckland in recent years at Hobsonville would eventually deliver 3000 homes.
‘But Auckland has a current shortage of 32,000 dwellings – and that number is going to keep growing. Auckland needs the equivalent of another 11 Hobsonvilles on the ground right now – and a further four developments that size each year to keep up with demand’. The commission – an independent Crown entity – has made 38 recommendations in the report for feedback by August 4.
Finance Minister Bill English said the report would help inform the Government’s next steps in its housing programme – but would not commit yet to any changes.