The role of housing in promoting social wellbeing is generally accepted yet largely ignored by policy makers. Since 1991 New Zealand’s housing policy has mainly relied of demand side approaches through the Accommodation Supplement. This approach has not addressed housing need for the poorest 20% of New Zealanders and may even be responsible for the current position in housing with inflated house prices, distorted investment markets and falling levels of home ownership.
This paper is a call to Government to take housing and housing policy more seriously. This can be done by allocating significantly more resource to addressing housing affordability and by accepting the need to institute a range of supply side housing policies which directly increase the stock of affordable houses and directly assist modest income households into home ownership.
The four chapters of this paper discuss the importance of social housing as a vehicle for social reform, considers the economics and politics of housing, the broader role which social housing may fulfil and the responses necessary to bring this role about.