August 12, 2016
Expertise of the NZ’s community housing providers acknowledged by Government
Community Housing Aotearoa is applauding the Government’s recognition that the New Zealand community housing sector is a safe pair of hands with the announcement that Accessible Properties is the preferred provider for Housing NZ houses in Tauranga.
Accessible Properties was one of three shortlisted respondents asked to submit a formal proposal to purchase the 1124 properties and take over the management of their tenancies.
The Government is now working with
Accessible Properties to finalise the agreement. It is
expected negotiations will be completed by October with a
final decision to be made shortly after.
Bill English Paula Bennett HNZC Social Housing
CHA Chief Executive Scott Figenshow says the Governmnet has clearly recognised the value of local providers.
“It’s great to see one of our long-standing, respected, New Zealand-led, registered charitable community housing providers come through a competitive tendering process, which included international and for-profit competition.
“Accessible Properties has been a founding member since the earliest days of CHA and its great to see their commitment to tenant wellbeing come through. The Government has acknowledged that HNZ did not do as good as job they could have done for these families, and we are confident that Accessible will deliver and do a great job.”
He says if the transaction is completed, it will nearly double the number of individuals and families resident in Accessible Properties’ portfolio of homes.
“We hope the final details of the transaction will enable Accessible to make the houses fit for purpose, and to add new supply of both social and affordable housing across the range of needs in Tauranga. Perhaps it can also active further partnership with the wider sector.”
Scott Figenshow says Accessible still has one more hurdle to get over, with the completion of commercial negotiations with the Government.
“We wish them well for that. While it is a positive step we have seen negotiations fall over in Invercargill when the preferred provider and the Government were not able to reach agreement, so until the papers are signed this is not a done deal.”
He says while this latest announcement is pleasing, there are still misgivings about the process used for the stock transfer programme, announced in July 2014.
“This programme was the Government’s answer in how it would invest in growing both the supply of social housing and investing in community housing providers. However not one additional home has been added through this process.
“It has taken over two long and taxing years chewing up a lot of provider capacity. The problem with this price-based, competitive tendering is that skill and capacity of the non-selected parties is left lying on the table. We need a different approach that uses all of the available capacity and puts it to work to end our housing crisis.”
The Social Housing Fund was turned off when Stock Transfers were announced – which means nearly three years with no new capital investment into the sector, he says.
“It’s great that Accessible Properties has been able to deliver 200 new homes over this period – utilising both the last of the capital grant funding and Government’s Income Related Rent Subsidy. Since that pipeline has ended, it proves the point that a fresh capital fund is needed again – for both social and affordable housing.”
CHA continues to call for an alternative to the transactions process that better activates the capacity in the community housing sector.
“We are seeing more openness in Treasury to the shortcomings of this process, and we remain hopeful that future transactions can be structured differently to activate more investment in the community housing sector.
“In some areas with a single registered community housing provider, we think the case is now made for Government to directly transfer its stock, rather than selling them.”