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The current environment

In the period between 2014-2016 there was a lot of change in the environment that New Zealand’s community housing sector operates in.

The housing capital grants fund ceased and income related rent subsidies were extended to the sector.

The Community Housing Regulatory Authority (CHRA) was established and discussions around the charitable and tax status of community housing groups continued, culminating in clarity of status for 99% of community housing providers in late 2015.

Government began a process looking at how communities might take responsibility for social housing instead of the traditional state housing model, looking initially at the Invercargill and Tauranga areas, beginning the process of divesting some of their social housing to community housing groups. December 2016 saw this process extended to Christchurch.

“New Zealand community housing providers have been out there doing the hard yards for years - we believe that these assets (HNZC houses) that the state has developed, need to stay in New Zealand hands and local community housing organisations are the best organisations to maintain those assets. At the end of the day good outcomes mean the New Zealand tax payer pays less money than they are currently paying to allow people to live in old, cold and mouldy housing by giving tenants warm, safe and dry homes, enabling strong connections to their communities.” Scott Figenshow, CEO, Community Housing Aotearoa.

Special Housing Areas (SHA) were set up by Government to increase the development of housing over the country. Many of these SHAs were in Auckland where affordability thresholds were established for developments. No requirement for providing a certain number of affordable homes have been required in other SHAs over the country.

Collaborations between community housing groups, iwi and the private sector have developed and the making affordable homes happen website will show you some of the collaborations that have created more social and affordable housing.

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Coinciding with these changes were challenges for community housing organisations to meet the increasing demand for their housing and a growing need for the development of a source of capital investment to support this growth.

As the country responds to a growing housing crisis some areas have shown particular housing difficulty: Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown. You can find more information on these areas in our resources page. Read CHA’s summary of the housing situation in Christchurch here and the article on emergency housing and homelessness here:

Spotlight on Homelessness Housing WORKS mock.pdf

Proposed changes by Government to the Residential Tenancies Act to address low quality rental housing does not go far enough. Many community groups are calling for a housing Warrant of Fitness (WoF) to be mandated under the Act.

Local authorities are calling for the ability to receive the income related rental subsidy for their tenants. Some are supporting the establishment of community housing organisations to manage these tenancies and receive IRRS for their new tenants while others are divesting their housing stock to community housing providers. Read more here.

In response to the need for more emergency housing in May 2016 the Government announced a pre-budget commitment to $41.4 million over four years to better respond to emergency housing need. Government, through the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), has established a number of policy initiatives to address emergency and social housing shortfalls and the recent MSD purchasing strategy, 13 December 2016, can be found here. A statement from this strategy shows:

“Over the past year the Government has invested another $144 million to help community housing providers increase the supply of social housing places. MSD is looking for more than 6,400 new places over the next four years. As a result we’ve seen more community housing providers come on board. Last year we had 26 registered providers and this year we have 41. As at the end of September (2016) they were supporting over 3,100 kiwi households."

Commentator and Economist, Shamubeel Eaqub in Housing Finance International; Autumn 2016, looked at the state of housing the housing market in New Zealand. He comments that while there are sufficient numbers of houses being built through the cycle, it is not accessible to all.

The key points Shamubeel Eaqub makes are:

  • The New Zealand housing market is hot
  • Auckland in particular is overheated
  • The effects are spilling over to other regions
  • This is in part due to government policies
  • Many new policies have been tried, none are having the desired effect. Some have bought time
  • The solutions are known, but politically unpalatable.

Read more here.

Listen to this podcast from January 4, 2017, 'Outspoken on homelessness', where Demelza Leslie, talks to Scott Figenshow of CHA, UNICEF's Vivian Maidaborne and Human Rights Commissioner, David Rutherford about homelessness in New Zealand.

Here's another podcast from January 2016 on some of the current housing issues again with, Scott Figenshow, alongside Wellington City Council councillor, Paul Eagle, and Labour housing spokesperson, Phil Twyford.