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Support for successful housing programmes

Hon Chris Carter
Minister of Housing

Support for successful housing programmes

A $43.6 million funding package in Budget 2007 will extend two highly successful housing programmes, taking them into new areas of the country, and providing assistance to a wider range of New Zealand families.

The Healthy Housing programme, which targets overcrowded households and assists them into more appropriate housing, is to be extended for three years and introduced into the Wellington region for the first time. It will receive $21 million of capital funding for 2007/08 to 2009/10, and $2.8 million of operating funding for 2008/09 to 2010/11.

The Housing Innovation Fund, which provides government assistance to local authorities and community groups in developing affordable housing, is also to be extended with $12 million of capital funding for 2008/09, and $7.8 million of operating funding over 2007/08 through to 2010/11.

"The Labour-led government has a goal of ensuring everyone in New Zealand has access to good quality, affordable housing, " Housing Minister Chris Carter said.

"These two programmes are part of a suite of initiatives we have put in place to achieve that goal. Both have had a huge impact on individual families and the wider community, and Budget 2007 will amplify that impact."

Healthy Housing Programme

The Healthy Housing programme grew out of grave concerns about the incidence of infectious diseases, such as meningitis, tuberculosis and rheumatic fever, among overcrowded households in South Auckland and Northland.

To tackle these issues, the Labour-led government established a multi-agency programme to fund social and health sector agencies to work with at-risk households to improve their housing, and link them with health and social services.

Since then, the programme has helped more than 4,500 households. More than 2,300 houses have been insulated by Housing New Zealand, and over 3,500 houses ventilated to make them healthier. Some families have been assisted in to larger houses in the private sector, and 364 houses have been built, bought or extended to accommodate large at-risk families.

A recent evaluation of the programme in Counties Manukau showed a 37 per cent decrease in hospitalisations for housing-related illnesses. Large decreases were also seen in respiratory conditions, and the numbers of families accessing primary health care have increased, with all the associated benefits for individuals and the wider community.

"Until now, the Healthy Housing programme has been confined to Auckland and Northland, and funding was due to expire this year. Budget 2007 will allow work to continue in Auckland, but also expand the programme to the Hutt Valley in Wellington where a high concentration of at-risk families have been identified," Mr Carter said.

Housing Innovation Fund

In 2002 the Labour-led government established the Housing Innovation Fund to provide capacity building grants to organisations interested in entering social housing, and loan finance to assist new and existing providers with construction or renovation.

The Fund was designed to combine community and government resources to increase the overall pool of social housing in the country.

Since it was established, the Fund has supported the construction of 208 new social housing units, and the refurbishment of a further 301 units. In doing so, the Fund has leveraged some $21.4 million from philanthropic or private investors, roughly one third of the cost of the new housing.

"The Fund's results speak for themselves, and so too does the long queue of local authorities and community groups who want to participate in providing social housing but haven't yet got funding," Mr Carter said.

"Budget 2007 recognises this community interest, and extends the life of the Fund for a further year pending a fuller evaluation of the potential of this policy."

Housing Savings

During the baseline review $18.9 million of savings were identified in housing. These have been put towards the housing funding in Budget 2007.

ENDS

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