10 August 2016
It’s safe to require affordable housing in Auckland - backed by legal opinion
A legal opinion prepared for Community Housing Aotearoa by Wellington barrister and solicitor, Thomas Bennion, says it’s safe to put affordable housing back in the Auckland Unitary Plan.
“This opinion confirms what we’ve been asking the Auckland Council to do- to reject the recommendation of the Independent Hearings Panel and put the affordable housing provisions back into the Unitary Plan,” says Scott Figenshow, Community Housing Aotearoa chief executive. He says the community housing sector is pleased to see increased density of housing in the plan but is concerned that homes will still be out of the reach for the half of Aucklanders earning below the median income.
“Putting the affordable housing provisions back into the plan is a legally valid alternative solution available to the Council. It’s the ethical thing to do,” he says.
“We appeal to the integrity of councilors in their decision making on the Unitary Plan this week to think about those low-income families that will struggle to get into any of the 400,000 homes proposed to be built in Auckland in the future.
“We need the mandatory affordable housing provisions to ensure that a portion of the homes meet the needs of our low and moderate income families. The provisions ensure that 10% of our housing supply will work for those under the median income. Increasing density does not guarantee that by itself,” he says.
A 149-page report prepared by Auckland Council staff for councilors released on Tuesday recommends councilors accept most of the proposals made by the independent hearings panel. “Council staff’s agreement with the Independent Hearings Panel is short-sighted and backtracks on Councils agreed position.
“They had good reasons for putting Affordable Housing provisions in originally. Their further evidence to the panel meets the test as an “alternative solution” under the law. It’s clear the city needs to have affordability provisions in place for its future sustainable development.
“These affordability mechanisms were originally introduced to encourage more affordable houses to be supplied. Yes, you will eventually get more affordable housing if you build over 400,000 new houses in Auckland but it will be a long-time coming. And there will be families sleeping in cars for a while longer yet– and this isn’t acceptable”