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Make adequate funding available for affordable housing

Make adequate funding available for affordable housing say community housing providers

Community housing groups are saying that desperately needed social housing in New Zealand must be delivered by both Housing New Zealand and social housing providers if it is to succeed.

Scott Figenshow, CEO for Community House Aotearoa says the sector was pleased that the Prime Minister John Key has said that the Government needs to provide social housing. However, his comments that there are a variety of ways that could be achieved through Housing New Zealand has raised concerns.

“It’s too early to gloss over the community housing sector by reaching the view that you can only fill social housing places through Housing New Zealand,” says Scott Figenshow.

“A principal reason why community housing providers are only delivering a small number of homes is the lack of capital. IRRS contracts alone aren’t enough and Government and officials know this.

“The supply of social and affordable homes is dwindling because Government aren’t continuing to invest in the sector as previously done through the Social Housing Fund and the Housing Innovation Fund before that.

“The settings aren’t right for affordable housing,” says Scott Figenshow. “It’s great to invest new resources in emergency housing and there’s funding for social housing through IRRS (the Income Related Rent Subsidy that means tenants only pay 25% of their income on rent), but it’s the affordable homes that aren’t being delivered. There is nowhere affordable for people to go when they are not eligible for social housing”.

To build a reliable pipeline of social and affordable housing supply Community Housing Aotearoa want to see Government make resource commitments that endure for the next decade through five key actions:

1) a permanent IRRS fund for 65,000 places across New Zealand (to resolve the wait list for social housing given current supply is at approximately 60,000 places);
2) a permanent capital fund that adds 15,000 new affordable homes across New Zealand. We need many more affordable homes, but this is a good start;
3) a permanent supportive services fund across New Zealand, separate from IRRS, to facilitate long-term housing success and support a Housing First approach;
4) an urgent review of the Accommodation Supplement, coupled with new requirements for the homes receiving the AS to meet standards as warm, safe and affordable; and
5) a commitment to build a robust supply pipeline for more social and affordable homes through a social procurement approach that grows our community housing sector while addressing local housing need across the housing continuum. Community Housing Regulatory Authority registered providers should be certain that proposals meeting the benchmark provisions will get funded.

“Over 280,000 New Zealanders are struggling to provide warm, safe and affordable homes for their families through the out-of-date Accommodation Supplement by renting in the open market,” says Scott Figenshow. “Those ready to move from social housing find it’s currently too big a leap to make as low wage jobs don’t pay enough to cover rising market rents.”

International responses to affordable housing short-falls have been to invest in the growth of community housing providers. They can provide affordable rentals and pathways to homeownership. Those international providers can now leverage their housing and sustain their own growth to provide more affordable homes in their communities.

“Making adequate capital available to the community housing sector in New Zealand for the next decade will increase the number of affordable homes available and free-up limited social and emergency housing. That will rebuild the pipeline for community and social housing provision. Three-year announcements and RFPs aren’t adequate.

“We strongly support Government’s decision to allow HNZC to reinvest its $100M dividend in addition to the $2BN they are already committed to spending. In addition, the Tamaki Housing Association received $200M for their start-up. Where is the equivalent for community housing providers? Government set a goal to deliver a level playing field. All we’re asking is that it deliver what it promised.

“HZNC isn’t allowed to deliver the affordable housing that enables families to move on from social housing or acts as a stop gap to New Zealanders falling into homelessness. Historically this is what the community housing sector does.

“All New Zealanders deserve to be well-housed. Let’s get back to our roots and work on the settings to enable community housing groups to work alongside a stronger HNZC, serving a wider set of housing and support needs.”

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