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New Zealand Maori Council breaks into housing reform

The New Zealand Maori Council has today launched the second of its new resources focused on educating whanau when it comes to their rights as tenants and what the responsibilities of landlords are. Council Executive Director, Matthew Tukaki, launched the resource in Invercargill this afternoon and said that the stories of Maori being discriminated against in the rental market were often heartbreaking:

“Many of our people rent or attempt to get into the rental market and yet often they don’t know what their rights are. I have had dozens of people an whanau also come to me with stories they were denied housing for what they believe was bias. The first thing we needed to do as a Council was act to ensure our people know their rights so this first resource is about what landlords can and cannot do. Shortly I’ll also be releasing a new resource targeted at also ensuring that landlords and property managers know that by denying people a rental based on race has no place in todays New Zealand.” Tukaki said

“Aside from that we also need to understand what our obligations are from how many people are allowed to be located within a single tenancy, are you allowed a dog or pets? What does short term versus long term lease mean and so on. The other thing we need to confront are the adhoc rental rises and so on.” Tukaki said

“The reality is that the rental market can be brutal but the truth is all of us should have access to a safe and secure home. Over the coming months Council will be working through our National Taskforce on Housing and Housing Affordability to also look at some big questions and how we might identify solutions such as:

• Affordable Housing – rentals in our Urban areas – this will focus in on our people in the large city markers where affordable rent is always going to be tied with income. Do we have enough state housing stock in kay locations, what does the build cycle look like? How many new properties are coming online both through the private rental market and the state housing sector? Where are the hot spots when it comes to Maori affordable rentals in our urban areas?

• Affordable Housing – rentals in our provincial areas – in the regions housing is often not discussed and yet there is equal pressure, high demand and low availability – therefore what does a plan look like to develop more rental opportunities – what does it look like and how much could it cost? Is there an incentive based program to get more Maori land owners (as opposed to just Iwi and Hapu) to get into the rental development market and if so could we design a start-up grant process to give them access to both capital and finance to get the job done?

• Affordable Housing – Maori as first home buyers – many of our people struggle to save for a deposit because they are members of the low wage growth side of the economy as well as the low skills side. For every dollar earnt very little is, therefore provisioned towards savings. Is it possible to develop up a first home buyers grant process specifically for Maori first home buyers or relax the loan to value ratio for Maori and tail in the risk at the back end of the loan? A support package to get whanau into their first home could be the way to go

• Affordable Housing – security in housing for Maori in retirement – what does Kaumatua housing look like or just additional support for our people living into their latter years by remaining in their current home or moving into a form of retirement in Kaumatua villages – is it possible to even look at different models to support our people suffering from debilitating diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s?

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