No quick fixes or promises from Minister on our rental housing crisis

While Housing Minister Megan Woods assures Queenstown she understands the seriousness of our housing crisis, there are questions over whether she understands the need for urgent fixes.

In Queenstown on Tuesday to meet Queenstown mayor Glyn Lewers and members of the urban growth partnership, Woods addressed Queenstown Business Chamber of Commerce members, before an, at times, heated Q&A session.

Woods reiterated, frequently, the housing crisis was ‘‘decades in the making’’, and pointed, often, to fast-track consents and building more houses as the solution.

‘‘We will not solve a housing crisis in New Zealand … by simply shifting the supply between each other.

‘‘We have to expand the pie; we need more houses.

‘‘The way you get out of a housing crisis, when you don’t have enough houses, is you build more.’’

While Housemart Queenstown owner Hayley Stevenson begged for a legislative change to the Residential Tenancy Act, to enable properties to be rented to seasonal workers, with an assurance for homeowners at the end of that period the home would be returned to them, Woods told her legislative changes take a long time.

Chamber chief executive Sharon Fifield tells Mountain Scene she finds that ‘‘quite frustrating’’, particularly given the urgent need for fast help.

Lewers: ‘We need to get through winter’

‘‘Legislation takes a long time to change … so does building houses,” Fifield says.

‘‘The frustration is we have enough supply, and we know that.

‘‘It’s just not being used for the purpose we need [and] I think members made that really clear.’’

Fifield says they’ll follow up with Woods’ office, correct some of the data which is informing the government’s assumptions and ‘‘keep on it’’.

She notes, though, Woods appears ‘‘very data-driven’’, which highlights the importance of better local data collection.

‘‘We need to tell our story in a better way to government, so they really get it.’’

Lewers, meanwhile, says his time with Woods was ‘‘good and productive’’ and they did talk about ‘‘short-term relief’’, identifying potential fishhooks with, for example, Ministry of Social Development, and how those could be smoothed over.

Focused on the next six weeks: Queenstown mayor Glyn Lewers

‘‘She also raised some good, valid issues we might encounter from other agencies, so she’s looking into that.’’

He confirms the initiative he pulled the trigger on from the ‘joint action housing plan’ will go to Queenstown’s council next Thursday for discussion.

‘‘Hopefully, if they all say yes, we’re ready to go.’’

While still not divulging details of that initiative, he says his primary concern is getting people in houses within the next six weeks.

‘‘Hopefully, with what we’ll put out, if we get the engagement we need we will get through winter.

‘‘The longer, medium-term stuff will still happen, but we just need to get through this winter.’’

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