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Horowhenua home ownership levels down

Horowhenua home ownership levels down and lack of affordable housing

By Veronica Harrod

Say the word "economic development" and everyone thinks, "Great, what's wrong with economic development?" Economic development for who though?

The genesis of Horowhenua District Council's economic development model was a 2015 New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) report commissioned by the Council and Economic Development Board (EDB) called “Investment in Transport Infrastructure: Effects on economic and demographic outlook.”

The report identifies relatively cheap labour and available land as the two main economic advantages of doing business in Horowhenua and recommends remaining unresponsive to, “increased demand or economic activity in the region with measures that undermine the region’s competitive cost advantage by raising cost and prices."

In other words keep wages low and cost of land and property development down to maintain the district’s competitive advantage.

Yet, according to official figures there are 333 fewer ratepayers now than there were this time last year. According to Council’s June 2017 Annual Plan there was 17,959 rateable properties. Yet a 2018 email from Council communications advisor Trish Hayward said there were 17,626 rateable properties which indicates home ownership in Horowhenua is actually going down not up.

Several members of the Community Wellbeing Committee continue to say home affordability in Horowhenua - either renting or owning – is a problem.

At the April 24 meeting committee member Eleanor Gully queried what economic group would be living in the new housing developments, what infrastructure provisions would be made for the Pasifika population and disability community, and whether the new housing developments would have community houses.

Ministry of Social Development committee member Katie Brosnahan said the Ministry wanted to be involved "from the get go" to ensure sustainable jobs and employment opportunities were created for beneficiaries.

Sister Sosefina from Housing Compassion, that manages the pensioner portfolio, said her experience in the last six months with the elderly of the district is, "they are asking for space and accommodation."

In response to the Salvation Army State of the Nation report last year Levin Salvation Army Community Ministries co-ordinator Linda Murray said that locally demand for food parcels and numbers of people experiencing food poverty due to high rents and low wages is increasing. She also said there was a serious lack of affordable housing and the impact was felt even by those bringing two wages into the household.

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