Budget delivers big first step in addressing our housing crisis

Community Housing Aotearoa welcomes Budget 2018 as a solid down payment amid clear signs of a Government plan to address the scale of the housing crisis.

CEO Scott Figenshow says the representative body for community housing providers is pleased to see the increase in social housing places to 1600 per year for the next four years, up from 1000 per year signalled earlier.

“While it’s a level of investment we haven’t seen in decades, we’re still short on the agreed 2000 per year that are needed each year just to tread water – a figure we agree on with The Salvation Army. Yet we are pleased to see the direction of travel is getting closer toward that 2000 per year number.”

The sector is also buoyed by the Government’s recognition of community housing providers as a vital contributor to public housing.

“Of the 1600 new social housing places per year, 600 of them can be through Registered Community Housing Providers, and we heard Minister Twyford confirm his expectation that at least 30% of the total should be through our sector. There is still a great deal of uncertainty around the funding mechanisms and how this opportunity will work in practice.It’s an important recognition of the sector’s diversity and commitment to a human rights-based approach, offering households greater choice and affordability.”

Scott Figenshow says CHA wants to acknowledge Ministers Phil Twyford and Jenny Salesa for their commitments to growing and partnering with the community housing sector. “We heard there is a review of the procurement approach on the cards to be completed over the next three months and we eagerly await its recommendations.”

“I also want to recognise Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Finance Minister Grant Robertson for their commitments toward a well-being and partnership approach. There is a lot of work to be done to put the political commitment into practice.”

CHA says work must start now on Budget 2019, and solving the capital investment challenge to further scale up delivery.

“While it’s great to see HNZC able to borrow extensively at favourable rates, we look forward to partnering with Government to create a similar level of socially responsible, alternative investment of both debt and equity in community housing providers.Perhaps some of the lessons from the Green Investment Fund can be applied in the community housing space.”

Scott Figenshow says the community housing sector’s value proposition to Government continues as it always has – the sector can retain and recycle investment made today, ensuring it delivers for future generations.

“We are stewards of public benefit. When our sector operates at an equivalent scale to HNZC we will truly see homelessness become rare, brief and non-recurring, and all of our mokopuna flourish.”

CHA is also pleased with the Government’s commitment to a workstream on progressive homeownership.

“Community housing providers have a robust track record delivering shared equity and rent-to-buy programmes. We are excited at the opportunity for Government to choose to partner with us to scale up their delivery. Our sector has led innovation in this space, and we already have work underway that could assist more New Zealanders to be well-housed, if we can put that partnership into action,” Scott Figenshow says.

Several community housing providers are also developers, so are pleased to see the KiwiBuild capital commitments in place.

“CHA acknowledges the comments that our colleagues at PrefabNZ, the NZGBC, and Infrastructure New Zealand have all made to the importance of transformation, through prefabrication, commitment to quality and proper funding of infrastructure.”

CHA National Council members Moira Lawler (CEO Lifewise) and Bernie Smith (CEO Monte Cecilia Housing Trust) both attended yesterday’s budget lockup.“The big story in this budget is the housing story, so working with Government to get this right for the sector and getting it right with choice for New Zealand families is critical to our country’s future,” says Moira Lawler.

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