In April, I announced with Government an historic $28 billion-dollar investment in Auckland’s transport infrastructure to deliver transformative projects like light rail, major bus upgrades, new and improved roads like Penlink and Mill Rd, and more walking and cycling facilities.
This funding included the Regional Fuel Tax (RFT), which in its first month of operation has generated $13.2 million (excluding GST). Without the RFT we would be doing little more than maintaining our transport system. It is already funding critical projects such as rural road safety upgrades in Rodney, six new red-light safety cameras at dangerous intersections across Auckland and building the vital Matakana link road to support growth and reduce congestion in Auckland’s north.
Aucklanders overwhelmingly backed the proposal to significantly improve water quality and tackle other environmental challenges. Two small targeted rates will allow us to raise $763 million over 10 years to more comprehensively address kauri dieback, eradicate pests and predators and improve our water quality.
We are also making progress on housing. In the year to July, 12,845 new building consents were issued representing a 28 percent increase on the previous year and the second highest in Auckland’s history.
We’re working closely with Government to help deliver Kiwibuild and increase the housing stock, and at the end of September announced funding of $339 million from the Housing Infrastructure Fund to speed-up the delivery of around 7000 new homes in Redhills and Whenuapai.
Last month I took part in Auckland’s Homeless Count, a region-wide volunteer effort to significantly improve our understanding of the shape and scale of homelessness in Auckland.
High housing costs in Auckland mean that levels of homelessness are higher here than elsewhere in the country. Being homeless is a miserable existence and we need to tackle the problem and its causes. We are making some good progress in doing that.
Council is working with Housing First and we have placed 582 homeless people and families in warm, safe and dry homes in the last 15 months.
Housing First works on the principle of first housing people who are without shelter and then addressing problems such as mental illness and addiction which contribute to the problem. Increasing our social and affordable housing stock will also help.
Ending homelessness may not be easy, but it is an important part of our vision of Auckland being an inclusive community and a world-class city.