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Waitakere welcomes affordable housing initiative

Media statement – 6/12/07

Waitakere welcomes affordable housing initiative but believes it should be mandatory


Waitakere City Council acknowledges the intent behind Housing Minister Maryan Street’s affordable housing bill, saying that it sees lack of affordable housing as a major threat to quality of life in the future.

“The community’s wellbeing requires people’s housing be both of a good standard and affordable - and in New Zealand we have been in danger of losing the affordable housing option for a large segment of the population,” says Waitakere Deputy Mayor, Penny Hulse.

“Watching housing become increasingly unaffordable has been exceedingly worrying and we welcome this initiative,” she says.

“However the onus is now on local government to put this plan into action and that raises some concerns. In Australia where these provisions are mandatory, the incorporation of affordable housing into most subdivisions happens as a matter of course,” says Cr Hulse

“I have my doubts that the take-up will be universal by all councils. Local government is under a lot of strain at the moment and it would be better for this initiative to be driven by central government”

Councillor Hulse says that Waitakere has been tackling housing issues on a wide front and has developed considerable understanding of the role good housing has to play in a well-adjusted community.

She says that warm and dry housing is critical to good health; good health reduces the demand on the health system. In households with limited income, expensive housing can force people to cut back on food, adequate clothing, medical care and education.

“Reducing people’s options contributes to social injustices and social problems like family violence and other crime – the cost of which is ultimately picked up by the rate and taxpayer,”

“Prevention is always better than cure and those costs are much greater than the cost of ensuring that there is good affordable housing to begin with,” says Councillor Hulse

“Home ownership in New Zealand has always been far more than just a roof over your head. It is about forming communities and neighbourhoods and taking ownership of them. It has been a major way that New Zealanders have acquired wealth and provided for their old age. It has enabled them to achieve social aspirations. For generations it has been central to what defines us as New Zealanders,” says Deputy Mayor Hulse.

“Equally, even if people can’t afford their own house, having affordable rents that allow them to provide a stable home to their families should be the right of everyone ” she says.

Councillor Hulse says Waitakere City Council has been working with Housing New Zealand on a number of housing projects, including the development of a model modern housing development at Hobsonville.

“It is very exciting to think that we are taking the next big step forward in affordable housing since the introduction of state housing in the 1930’s.
“State housing played a huge role in building the essentially fair society New Zealand had for about 50 years. What we’re talking about here isn’t state housing in the traditional sense but it is affordable housing and has the same potential to build a successful society,” she says.

“The key to reducing the anxiety around state housing is to ensure good design and high quality maintenance. As a council we are working with Housing New Zealand to improve management of current housing stock,” says Cr Hulse.

Ends


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