2. HIF to put $196m into Tauranga, Waikato infrastructure

Phil Twyford will announce two large housing infrastructure projects in Tauranga and Waikato this morning, Thomas Coughlan reports.

Tauranga and Waikato’s water and wastewater infrastructure is in for a major upgrade as the Government prepares to announce large investment projects it hopes will pave the way for more housing.

Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford told Newsroom the projects would create water and wastewater infrastructure for an additional 35,000 houses in Tauranga and 2,790 houses in Waikato.

They would cost $196 million and be paid for by interest-free loans from the Housing Infrastructure Fund or HIF, he said.

The HIF is a $1 billion fund established by the previous Government to fast-track infrastructure projects needed to increase housing supply.

Housing crisis beyond Auckland

Twyford is keen to show the Government is paying attention to the housing crisis as it exists beyond Auckland.

“There are signs that Auckland’s housing issues are moving south. According to QV data, average house prices in the Waikato District have increased to $483,179 – up 8.8 per cent over the past year,” Twyford said in a statement to accompany the announcement.

“Rentals just down the road at Huntly have increased 13.3 per cent over the last year,” he said.

Tauranga is one of the areas most severely affected by the housing crisis, according to the median multiple measurement of housing affordability which measures the median house price as a multiple of the median household income.

Tauranga scores 7.96 on this measurement, compared to 9.20 in Auckland and just 6.83 in Wellington city. The national average is 6.33.

Until now, most of the attention for the Government’s response to the housing crisis has been lavished upon Auckland.

Twyford’s flagship KiwiBuild programme is meant to build 50,000 dwellings outside Auckland over the next year, but so far the programme’s attention has been fixed on the city, with all of the 430 announced KiwiBuilds concentrated there.

Housing Infrastructure Fund

The HIF was established by the previous Government in 2016 to accelerate housing construction by financing essential infrastructure.

But for all the talk of accelerating housing construction, HIF drew criticism for the slow pace at which it doled out funding.

National’s last Budget estimated it would only pay out $200 million by June 2019 and $600 million by June 2021.