The Government has sold at least 146 state homes worth more than $30m since late 2017, despite Labour promising to stop the sale of state houses if elected to government.
From late October 2017, when Labour formed a coalition government with New Zealand First and the Green Party, to December 2019 the Government’s housing agency Kāinga Ora sold 146 state houses, figures released under the Official Information Act show.
In the lead up to the 2017 election Labour said if elected it would immediately end the sale of state houses.
In December that year former housing minister Phil Twyford issued a press release titled: Government stops the sale of state houses.
The statement said the Labour-led Government had “cancelled the sell-off of state houses, fulfilling another of its first 100 day promises”.
Twyford said it was the end of “large-scale” state housing sell-offs.
However, towards the bottom of the statement Twyford said it would still sell houses that were no longer fit for purpose.
Massey University associate professor Grant Duncan, who teaches public policy and political theory, said politicians were known to make statements without providing additional information to qualify it.
While it made sense for the Government to sell housing stock that may not be fit for purpose or not geographically suited to demand, it had not done what it said it would and stop the sale of state houses, he said.
“They didn’t stop selling, that’s clear,” Duncan said.
“What you say today is going to come back to bite you tomorrow if you’re not absolutely correct to the letter.
“This whole failure to deliver is being used against them.”
Kāinga Ora government relations manager Rachel Kelly said as a general rule a house would not be sold when it became vacant.
However, in some circumstances selling a property would be considered, she said.
That included when a property was too old and expensive to maintain, no longer met tenants’ needs, or was not in the right place to meet demand, she said.
When Kāinga Ora sold a house the money received was reinvested in the redevelopment of existing property or in buying new properties that would meet the needs of tenants, she said.
The total value received for the sale of homes between October 2017 and December 31, 2019 was $30.7m.
Megan Woods took over from Phil Twyford as Housing Minister in June.
The lowest priced home was sold for $38,000 and the highest sold for $1.7m.
The mean price was $330,411 and the median was $230,000.
Since October 2017 Kāinga Ora spent a total of $568.3m buying new property.
The Kāinga Ora property portfolio was valued at the end of each financial year. As at June 30, 2019 it was worth $28.6 billion, she said.
The total number of properties managed by Kāinga Ora was 65,769 as at December 31.
Housing Minister Megan Woods did not respond to questions.
Kāinga Ora figures show that, under National, in the 2014 financial year it sold 598 homes and built 398, in the 2015 financial year it sold 492 and built 724 and in the 2016 financial year it sold 308 and built 409.
That equates to 1398 houses sold and 1531 built in National’s last three full financial years in power.
Former National Party housing spokeswoman Nicola Willis recently accepted there was net loss of state houses during National’s nine years in Government.
However, the current Government failed to deliver on original targets set out in its KiwiBuild housing programme, which was meant to build 100,000 houses over 10 years.
To date fewer than 400 have been completed.