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QLDC Housing Taskforce determined to meet challenge

QLDC Housing Taskforce determined to meet challenge

Innovative solutions designed to alleviate the affordable housing challenge in the Queenstown Lakes District are being honed by the QLDC Housing Taskforce.

In April the Council announced the new taskforce formed by Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult, tasked to investigate new ways of addressing housing availability and affordability in the district. Four months on the taskforce is reporting considerable progress.

Taskforce chairman and QLDC Councillor John MacDonald is enthusiastic about the team’s work. "We're exploring a range of options to help the community with the critical issue of access to affordable housing. We’re looking into some really exciting and innovative options, which we believe will help key workers, families and even retirees into secure long-term affordable housing. I believe we’ve got the right people on the taskforce to make a difference to the district and am encouraged by progress so far.”

The many options being considered include an affordable ownership model of Trust-held land being leased to the homeowner for a nominal rent. In this possible model only the housing unit is bought and sold into a controlled market where the increase in value is limited. This concept maintains long-term affordability and would be a first for Queenstown, possibly New Zealand. Internationally this concept has been successfully implemented in locations such as the Canadian resort, Whistler.

The thinking to date is not only about a single solution, but recognises that the market is quite diverse and people are looking for a variety of mechanisms that can meet their particular circumstances. One additional model being explored with a third party is non-bank lending arrangements through investors, whereby households are able to purchase property with lower deposits and share in any market increase after a set period of time. This could remove a significant barrier to entering the housing market for many.
Equally the taskforce understands that renting needs to remain a viable option for people and the taskforce has recognised further work with the Government on identifying areas in the district which are eligible for rental subsidies and assistance.

Further thought is also being given to ideas that result in more land being made available for residential developments, and incentives which could assist in that. This aligns with the Council’s application to the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF); which creates a loan facility to the community fund infrastructure associated with enabling residential development. These initiatives, along with the current Proposed District Plan review and working with the Government’s Special Housing Area programme, are all designed to bring more houses to the market, reduce supply pressure, and drive down cost.

QLDC Mayor Jim Boult confirmed the cost of housing in the district remains his greatest concern. He described the initiatives under consideration by the taskforce as practical, realistic solutions. “I am pleased to be part of another project, which like better public transport, has the opportunity to benefit people from all walks of life in our community. All of the options are being worked through by the taskforce, with considerable work to be done before any can be confirmed but progress is excellent.

I am determined we will see solutions that make a real difference in housing provision for everyone from workers in our thriving tourism and construction industries, through to young families and retirees.”

Mayor Boult thanked the members of the taskforce for their hard work and innovative thinking to date.


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