Surely it was not just a figment of our – or the public’s – imagination! After all, the media for months carried nightly images of the hundreds of homeless on the streets, people living in garages or – if they were lucky – people being accommodated at state expense in motels.
That was in the run-up to the general election.
Curiously the lobbyists who were so active at that time are now relatively muted, although there is an occasional flashback to the homeless on the streets of central Auckland. And those kind-hearted people supplying meals to the hungry are still visible in the poorer areas of both Auckland and Wellington.
Labour, let’s not forget, came to office with well-canvassed policy to solve the housing “crisis”.
Because housing and the homeless are no longer being highlighted in the mainstream media, a visitor to NZ might conclude there is no longer a housing problem because the government has succeeded with its plans.
Far from being any kind of solution, the grand KiwiBuild scheme has been such a failure that even Phil Twyford, the Housing Minister who championed it for so long, has lost his ebullience in defending it.
There are even some unkind critics who say Twyford should be sacked for his performance on it (Point of Order doesn’t think there is any more than a remote chance of that, with PM Jacinda Ardern’s compassion welling up to save him).
Critics have been finger-pointing at the government over the KiwiBuild fiasco. According to the goals set by Labour when its policy was sold to voters, there should be 1000 homes built by the end of the month.
At the time of writing, there are still almost 900 to go.
Not surprisingly, the government has been talking of a “reset” of the entire housing policy. That doesn’t sound as if there are any quick fixes in sight for those who might have been at the sharp end of the housing “crisis”.
But perhaps the good news for unhoused New Zealanders is that Twyford is so busy working on Cabinet papers he cannot attend a talkfest on KiwiBuild. This led to National’s Judith Collins suggesting Twyford “is trying to reshuffle himself out of the housing portfolio”.
The question is whether ministers in the current coalition have learnt anything from the KiwiBuild fiasco.
We suggest, for example, that if you’ve discovered a “crisis” burning within the economy, you should make sure you have the means and the know-how to extinguish it in a hurry.