​Thirty solutions to address Wellington housing

Jun 18, 2018 | News

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester says the proposed Housing Strategy – released today – contains 30 solutions that are designed to address the city’s unique housing needs across a spectrum of temporary housing, short- and long-term rentals and home ownership.

“Wellington’s geography, with the harbour on one side and the town belt on the other, naturally limits sprawl. But as a city that is growing fast, there’s an urgent need to address a variety of issues at the same time.

“Homelessness is an urgent issue and, at the same time, so is student accommodation, the quality of rentals and whether or not people can afford to buy their own home.”

The Mayor says that following the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake, resilience is also part of the equation.

The 30 solutions to tackle Wellington’s housing issues include a $5000 rates remission for first home builders, looking at opportunities to turn underused buildings into affordable central city apartments and making the process of applying for a building consent easier.

“We are looking at everything in our arsenal, from our own social housing, to financial incentives, to cutting red tape, to partnerships,” the Mayor says.

“This is the outcome of 18 months of hard work by officers, councillors and community groups.”

The Mayor says the Council intends to work closely with the Government.

“We are certainly keeping the conversation going with the Government, in particular with the Minister for Housing.”

The Hon Phil Twyford, Minister for Housing, says the proposed housing solutions showed shows forward-thinking by the Council.

“The Housing Strategy is about ensuring future generations of Wellingtonians have good, decent homes. It’s as much for the Wellingtonians of today as it is for the Wellingtonians of the future.”

It is estimated that up to 30,000 new homes will be needed by the year 2043.

“Future proofing means also being able to think outside the box,” Mr Twyford says.

Wellington City Councillor and Housing Portfolio Leader Brian Dawson says the Wellington Housing Affordability Model (WHAM) is amongst the most innovative of the 30 solutions.

“The WHAM model looks at the basket of goods (living costs less housing costs) a household needs to be able to afford and calculates housing affordability after the basket of goods is taken into account,” he says.

“This is different from the usual understanding of affordability, which tends to start from the point of view of what the average person in any given town or city is willing to pay.

“The problem with the usual understanding of affordability is that as demand for housing goes up, so does the dollar value around affordability.

“We’ve developed a model that is more equitable, and quite frankly, more realistic. It’s going to help us better target our finite resources at a local level.”

Cr Dawson says that the model is currently being tested. External peer reviewers include Sense Partners economists Shamubeel Eaqub and Dr Kirdan Lees.

“We support a housing system that looks after our most vulnerable communities,” Cr Dawson says.

On Thursday 21 June, the Council’s City Housing Committee will meet to consider the capital’s Housing Strategy.

Housing Action Plan initiatives:

· District Plan review

· Urban Growth Plan review

· National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity

· Strategic Housing Investment Plan

· Urban Development Agency

· Stebbings Valley Structure Planning

· Proactive new build on Council land

· Special Housing Areas

· Rates remission for first-home buyers

· Consenting improvements

· Wellington Housing Standard

· Earthquake-prone Building Policy review

· Earthquake check and earthquake-prone building support

· Unreinforced Masonry Initiative

· Warm Up Wellington insulation retrofit project

· Home Energy Saver

· Neighbourhood grids

· City Housing portfolio

· Central government partnerships

· Non-government partnerships

· Central city apartment conversions

· Te Whare Oki Oki

· Housing trends monitoring

· Te Mahana – Homelessness Strategy

· Preparing for an aging population

· Framework for a Child and Youth Friendly City

· The CBD Community – vertical neighbourhoods

· Building strong and resilient communities

· Sustainable food network

· Participatory community co-design

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