Speech: Marama Davidson: Homes For All

Press Release – Green Party

Kia ora everyone.

Thank you all for coming here today. Thank you to the community for having us today, I’m proud that this is my neighbourhood!

And thank you to the Housing Foundation for having us, as we announce the next exciting pillar of our Green vision for Aotearoa.

The Green Party knows that housing is a human right.

We all deserve to live in a warm, dry, and affordable home.

Whether you rent or own, good housing is a baseline for a good life.

But we also know that a home is not just four walls.

We should all be able to put down roots, and feel secure in where we live.

Not only do we have this right to good housing – but we deserve to be a part of a community, too. Where everyone is empowered to participate and to live sustainably.

Never before have we seen the importance of that sense of community, than during the COVID-19 crisis.

We took the time to check in on each other – be it a quick phone call, a text, or a ‘kia ora’ over the fence.

And we worked as one big team to beat something bigger than each of us individually.

We are at a crossroads right now and have a unique opportunity to reimagine our communities for the better.

Where access to a quality home becomes a reality across Aotearoa.

For too long successive Governments have encouraged property speculators to buy up houses, and treated homes as no more than a money-making tool.

People in power sold off too much of our social and community housing.

And they allowed the homes we do have to become unhealthy and unfit for purpose.

This has meant that keeping a roof over your head has become more difficult.

Many people – who are working as hard as they can – are struggling to pay the rent.

People who used to dream of home ownership have now written it off as an unachievable goal.

Precarious tenancies and unfair rules mean people who rent are at constant risk of upheaval.

And people cannot put down roots, or feel secure in where they live.

In short – there are not enough affordable houses and they aren’t up to scratch.

And too many people who rent are living with the uncertainty of not knowing how long they’ll be able to stay.

This is not good enough.

But what is good, is that we have solutions to these problems. We don’t have to let this continue with business as usual, watching as things get worse.

This term, the Green Party’s achieved a whole lot on the housing front.

Just this week we passed a new law to drastically improve the situation for people who rent – including removing no-cause eviction notices.

We introduced the Healthy Homes Standards for rental insulation and heating.

With the Green Party’s support, this government has delivered more social housing than any previous government since the 1970s – and requiring all new builds to be at least Home Star 6 rated for energy efficiency.

And we got a Progressive Home Ownership scheme off the ground – with the first two providers announced in Auckland and Queenstown.

But we know we must think ahead, and act now, to address our housing woes.

And to create the kind of communities we deserve, which flourish alongside the natural environment and where people look out for one another.

The Green Party’s Homes for All Plan takes us further, faster.

We know we need more affordable housing.

Right now, there are over 18,000 households waiting for a home.

The Green Party will ensure the Crown build programme delivers enough affordable new rental properties to clear the waiting list within five years.

We will do this while ensuring no net-loss of publicly owned land.

These homes will be sustainable, and accessible.

And they will be safe, warm, and dry – built to an overhauled building code with the standards we should all expect in 2020.

On existing stock, the Greens will build on the success of our Warmer Kiwi Homes programme, to retrofit tens of thousands more homes.

Not only does this mean more families will have a warm, dry home to live in – but it will help reduce the impact of our houses on the planet.

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Under the current system, home ownership has become a distant dream for many of us.

High rents make saving for a deposit almost impossible.

We know that Progressive Home Ownership schemes are a crucial bridge to help people on low incomes buy their own home – if that is what they want to do. This neighbourhood right here is the very example of what we are trying to achieve – supporting more families to own their own.

The Green Party will expand the current scheme in our Confidence and Supply agreement, and embed it as a core part of the Government’s housing response.

This expansion will have a particular focus on funding Māori providers.

We also know that over half of the population are renting, and this will increase.

And that we must do more to make long-term renting a good option.

This week, I was really proud to see the residential reform legislation pass.

That change reflects what the Greens already know, that we must level the playing field between tenants and landlords.

In fact, we must transform the rental sector, so it is focused on ensuring people have good homes, not just on making a quick buck.

Our Homes for All Plan will create a sustainable, non-profit rental sector, by offering Crown financial guarantees for Community Housing Providers, including iwi, to build new properties which can be rented out long-term.

This plan is about supporting the people already doing the work – our community housing providers – to create community and iwi-led, purpose-built, rental housing.

We will also reduce the regulatory and funding barriers on these providers to encourage them to scale up their work, with a particular focus on papakainga.

These homes would be managed as long-term rentals, giving people who rent real security.

Our plan introduces a much-needed rental Warrant of Fitness – so people know their home is up to scratch.

We will regulate the rental industry, by holding property managers to the same standard as real estate agents.

And we will finally create standards for tertiary accommodation providers.

To measure our progress, we will create a national measure of affordable housing, and require Kāinga Ora to work towards a target of universal affordable housing.

So in summary. All of us deserve good housing.

And I’ll say it again – our homes should be warm, dry, and healthy.

They should be affordable, and secure – regardless of whether you rent or own.

Our homes should be accessible, and form the basis of real, thriving communities which look out for each other.

The Greens will build more homes, and make sure they are sustainable and warm.

We must create a non-profit rental industry which focuses on homing people long-term, not making money.

And we will empower community housing providers, hapū, and iwi, so they can scale up and expand their forward-thinking and innovative solutions.

We know that Māori are disproportionately represented across all areas of the housing crisis.

Part of ensuring everyone in Aotearoa has a home is affirming the leadership of iwi and hapū.

Our plan shows that we know how essential it is to have a tangata whenua response to all parts of the housing crisis.

Māori have the enduring solutions to take care of their communities, and the Crown has a Tiriti obligation to support that.

Good housing is a human right.

It is the basis of our communities. It can help us thrive.

Our Homes for All Plan is another example of the Greens thinking ahead, and acting now, to level the playing field of Aotearoa.

And to ensure we all have what we need.

With your support, our vision can be a reality.

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