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Shared equity pilot step in right direction

The Salvation Army Media Release

Shared equity pilot step in right direction, but still long way to go

Auckland, 16 May 2008 - The Government's pre-Budget announcement of a shared equity scheme is a step in the right direction, but falls well short of a comprehensive solution to the affordable housing crisis, says the Salvation Army.

The Minister of Housing announced today a $35m two-year Shared Equity pilot to assist lower income households into housing in Auckland, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Queenstown.

Salvation Army Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit director, Major Campbell Roberts, says that it is pleasing to see the Government pick up the shared equity concept, which the Salvation Army has identified previously as a desirable way to help people on lower incomes into their own homes.

But Major Roberts says that while the scheme is a positive move, it doesn't go nearly far enough to turn around the trend that has seen home ownership numbers in New Zealand declining to their lowest levels in 50 years.

'It's a small pilot which looks to be very limited in terms of the numbers of people who are actually going to be helped.

'Although it is claimed that up to 700 households will be assisted into their own homes, the high price of housing in areas like Auckland and Queenstown, mean that it is likely that a smaller number of families will be able to be helped.

'The housing price caps will also push qualifying families into the cheapest and lowest quality houses. With a price cap of $305,000 in Auckland, for example, you would be very limited in what you could buy.

'The scheme also appears to favour families without children, because childless couples would be more likely to have the disposable income at hand to be able to service the required mortgage, even with the Government's contribution.'

This is a small start which will only assist a few and Major Roberts says the Government should consider extending it by expanding its work with community organisations around the country that are already running successful shared equity schemes.

'By cooperating with the groups that have the knowledge and experience of shared equity schemes we as a community would be able to help more people into their own homes.'


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