Housing Rent Increase
MEDIA RELEASE 28 April 2008
Housing Rent Increase
Christchurch City Council has confirmed it has increased housing rents to a level that will enable proper maintenance and also renewal of its social housing as it ages - ensuring the future of social housing in the city.
Council tenants receiving an accommodation supplement will pay an average of around $6 a week extra in rental from the beginning of July - with the actual increase ranging between $5.40 and $9 per week.
“This puts Council rents at 58% of current market rentals, bettering the goal of the Council’s social housing strategy to stay within 80% of market rentals,” says Mayor Bob Parker.
“The Council’s social housing is self funding, which means it doesn’t take money from rates, and this increase is a vital step in ensuring the city is able to continue offering the service to those most in need.
“As a social housing landlord we go beyond what a normal landlord provides for their tenants. We have activities officers arranging social activities for tenants and transporting them there and back; we do things like gardening and lawn mowing; we provide recreation lounges in some complexes; and we move tenants to alternative accommodation while we do more major work on their units - not services that are offered by many landlords - and certainly not at the rent levels the council is able to offer,” Mr Parker says.
The increase means the council can now get on and tackle maintenance which had been deferred due to lack of funds, and many of its tenants will see the benefit of that work as they need less power to heat better insulated units over winter.
“Council housing officers and other Council staff will also be working with our tenants to ensure that they have the help they need to apply for any benefits they may be entitled to, including the accommodation supplement. We believe that 95% of our tenants are on some sort of benefit. While some of them may not be eligible for an accommodation supplement (possibly because of other income they may receive), we want to make sure that all those who are eligible know what’s available to them” says Mr Parker.
He said the Council remained committed to working with central government to provide the community with affordable facilities for those in need. “We will continue to seek partnerships with government (and others) for the building of new units - as we did with Whakahoa Village. In terms of existing housing - a $30 million injection from central government by 1 July 2008 would mean we could step back from the 24% increase and could instead limit the increase to the rate of CGPI for the next 10 years,” says Mr Parker.
The Council is on track to delivering its Social Housing Strategy, which was unanimously signed off in 2007. A wide range of agencies and social organisations was consulted in the development of the strategy which saw the council agree to:
housing for people on low incomes - including the elderly
and those with a disability
* maintain rents at less than 80% of market rental
* enter funding partnerships with other providers
* set rents at levels that provide sustainable social housing - allowing the Council to proudly hold its place as the country’s second largest provider of social housing
* remain rates neutral or self funding