Government housing reforms needed to go further says CHA
Today’s Government announcement on social housing is a step in the right direction but it needed to bolder, according to the group representing community housing providers and its partner Te Matapihi.
Community Housing Aotearoa director Scott Figenshow says it was good to hear that the government is realistic about the price it plans to put on the 1000-2000 state houses it intends to sell to community housing providers.
However, it was disappointing that all of the proceeds from the sales of those houses were not being ear-marked for social housing, with Prime Minister John Key saying some will be siphoned off to other projects.
“With the demand for social housing growing by the day, we need every dollar of those sale proceeds re-invested,” Scott Figenshow says.
CHA welcomes the Government’s commitment to increase the number of homes for social housing need, and the desire to encourage more involvement by community housing providers.
“It is also important the government acknowledges that funding is required for the extra support services that community housing organisation provide, such as support services for people with disabilities,” he says. We also need to make sure that the new housing we build is fully accessible for any age and need group.
Scott Figenshow says the planned increase in the number of income-related rent subsidies was also a positive step. However, the government had not confirmed the length of contract period for community housing organisations, an essential detail for raising finance to provide homes to house those tenants in.
“What we want to see was some form of long-term contract arrangement which provides security for community housing organisations to go and borrow money to build that house for that tenant with the income-related rent subsidy. We are seeing positive steps in this direction but the details are not yet confirmed”
CHA applauds other parts of the announcement such as the $500,000 committed to emergency housing and the plans to take Housing New Zealand properties with large land areas and make better use of them by replacing one house with more.
“This is a good start, but we need the government to be more ambitious. The government is clearly making social housing a priority but more action is needed. The numbers announced today would make a dent in the Auckland but what about the rest of the country?”
Scott Figenshow points to issues like the lack of tax emption for community housing providers as another area where it was will still looking for progress from the government.
“The community housing sector is already providing new affordable homes which are the right fit for the communities they are being built in. We can do more, we have the capacity, we just need the government to up its resourcing,” he says.