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Working group formed to tackle Auckland housing crisis

Radio New Zealand logo Radio New Zealand 9/02/2018 By Nikki Mandow

  Homes at the Waimahia development in Weymouth in Auckland. © RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson Homes at the Waimahia development in Weymouth in Auckland. An Auckland housing crisis working group has been formed to find a solution to the city's massive shortage, following five years of working in silos.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford, Auckland Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore and an array of industry, NGO and iwi chief executives met last night to form the group.

The working group is the brainchild of housing strategist Leonie Freeman who has been trying to get parties with a stake in the city's housing crisis around the same table at the same time for more than 18 months.

In 2016, Ms Freeman - who is a former senior executive at Housing New Zealand - set up, a philanthropic initiative aiming to solve the housing crisis.

She said the National government and Auckland Council snubbed her attempt at a housing summit.

But last night things were different and it was standing room only at her Housing Collective Action Forum.

Leonie Freeman (right) and Phil Twyford (left) at the launch of the housing group. © RNZ / Nikki Mandow Leonie Freeman (right) and Phil Twyford (left) at the launch of the housing group. "My estimate for Auckland is it's probably very small, about 10 people, setting the vision and then bringing all the parties together to focus on delivery and unblocking all the problems," she said.

Ms Freeman's goal is for 125,000 new homes to be built by 2025, with another 300,000 by 2045.

About 50 percent of those should be "affordable", she said.

She added that she also wanted to turn around a 25-year slump in home ownership, and she wanted 3000 more social housing places by the end of this year.

The change of government had been key to all the parties agreeing to come together to discuss the working group, she said.

"The government set some huge targets and they need all the sector groups behind them to achieve it," Ms Freeman said.

"I think the council has also come on board because they've done their mayoral taskforce to implement it, but to implement it they need all the sector groups together as well."

Last year Auckland mayor Phil Goff opted to set up his own taskforce. That taskforce will now be merged into the new working group.

The new working group is expected to meet within the next four to six weeks, and Mr Goff was to be briefed today.

Auckland Council said the city needed 14,000 new houses each year, but only half that number were being built.

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