Hamilton's housing is “severely unaffordable”

by Roxanne Libatique05 Sep 2019

Housing in Hamilton has been considered to be the third-most unaffordable in New Zealand – behind Auckland and Tauranga.

The Waikato Region Housing Initiative 2018 Housing Stocktake report, which was authored by Nifa Limited and presented to the Waikato Plan Leadership committee this week, pointed out that the city’s median prices are 6.2 times the median household income – making it “severely unaffordable.”

International guidelines described an affordable house price as only three times the median household income, which is $255,000 for Hamilton. However, its median house price is $529,000.

Paul Bowden, economic development manager at South Waikato, called housing affordability broken.

“Whether you're buying a house at 6.2 times the income or renting a house - in my own area in Tokoroa - a 25 per cent in three years increase in rents. We are effectively creating a nation of slaves, either working for the bank and the mortgage or working just to keep your head above water. It's a mess,” Bowden said.

Read more: Government urged to back build-to-rent scheme to address housing crisis

Hamilton Mayor Andrew King commented that the affordability claim was skewered as it failed to take into account the city’s high student population, which were not in the housing market when calculating Hamilton’s median household income level.

He insisted that houses in the city were still affordable compared to the national average with start-up homes available for around $400,000.

The report also pointed out that Hamilton needs 26,000 more houses over the next 25 years but King was not worried.

"That works out at about 1000 a year. We know that last year we built 1552 homes so we're ahead of where we need to be to ensure that this doesn't turn into a housing emergency,” King said.

"We're treating it with urgency but we don't believe it’s a housing emergency because we're concentrating on growth and infrastructure. I don't believe we have a housing crisis, but we have to do everything we can to avoid a housing crisis coming."

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