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Affordable Housing Co-ordinator to be appointed

Affordable Housing Co-ordinator to be appointed

The government will provide funding for an Affordable Housing Co-ordinator to assist with improving homeownership rates in the Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough districts, Housing Minister Chris Carter said today.

The move follows the publication of a new government-funded study from the Centre for Housing Research (CHRANZ), titled Affordable Housing in Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough: Taking Action. The study has found the Nelson, Marlborough and Tasman districts face significant difficulties with declining homeownership and housing affordability.

"In 2001, homeownership rates in the Nelson were down to 44 per cent compared with the then national average of 68 per cent," Mr Carter said.

"The new CHRANZ study makes it clear those rates are likely to have sunk lower still following a 70 per cent increase in property prices since 2002. Affordability problems have been further compounded by a sustained period of high rents.

"The Labour-Progressive government is committed to working with communities to ensure a supply of affordable housing because we recognise housing availability can have a significant impact on social stability, and the capacity of employers to fill jobs and expand the local economy.

"A key recommendation of the CHRANZ study is the appointment of a co-ordinator to work with local and central government agencies, business groups and communities in the Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough districts who will implement its recommendations. The government agrees with this recommendation and will make funding available so the organisations can appoint a co-ordinator," Mr Carter said.

The study argues that housing expenses have risen in the region because local councils and communities have been struggling to balance the need to retain green spaces and agricultural areas, with the need to free up land for new housing.

Although local councils have not been especially restrictive of land supply compared with many other districts, the movement in housing demand in the region has been far more pronounced than elsewhere, and has outstripped supply.

"Where new housing has been built in the region, zoning has tended to encourage big expensive homes on large sections, which is not an efficient use of land. This trend is mirrored nationally. House sizes have increased 50 per cent in the past decade," Mr Carter said.

"The study suggests the difficulties in Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough are not caused by legislative flaws. They have come about because of the choices communities have made. As such, the solutions lie with local communities.

"I am delighted to see many of the councils in the region facing up to the challenges identified in this study, and the government's decision to provide funding for a co-ordinator underscores our support for their efforts."

Copies of the study can be obtained from www.chranz.co.nz


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