Push for people to allow homeless to live in empty investment properties

Auckland’s housing crisis is now so bad the Mayor wants to try and convince people with empty investment properties to let homeless people live in them.

They’re what are known as “ghost-houses” and they’re becoming more and more common.

Now there’s a push to get homeless people into them due to how limited supply is.

“We’re not only having a housing crisis; it’s turned into a housing disaster. We’re seeing families actually borrowing money to pay the rent,” said Bernie Smith from Monte Cecilia Housing Trust.

At the 2018 census, there were nearly 1.9 million dwellings in New Zealand.

Nearly 200,000 of those were unoccupied. The vast majority, nearly 40,000 were in Auckland.

Some are baches and holiday homes, but many are just empty because house prices have risen so fast the owners don’t actually need to rent them.

“If you put your money in a house in Auckland 10 years ago you would’ve earned seven to eight percent a year on average in capital gains, so that’s certainly where the cash has been mostly earned,” said ASB senior economist Mike Jones.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff says filling them would be a “win” for workers, property owners, and Auckland “as a city”.

“It would be a win-win-win: it would benefit people, including key workers looking for rental accommodation, property owners who would get a rental return, and Auckland as a city.”

His plan is to ask power company Vector to locate homes not using any electricity.

But Vector says it can’t share that data with the Council due to privacy obligations.

“Under current contract provisions and our privacy obligations, we cannot use this data for non-network related activities or projects.”

Smith says property investors need to help solve our housing crisis.

“If you locked it up just for capital gains then I think you’re a part of the problem.”

Goff’s spoken to Ministers about his idea but how it could be done is yet to be determined.

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