8 November 2016
Create sustainable homes for vulnerable New Zealanders
Community housing groups are calling for more investment in social and affordable homes that matches the new emergency housing funding announced by Minister of Social Housing, Paula Bennett yesterday.
“We commend Government for this additional funding, it will make a huge difference for the 41,000 inadequately housed people all over the country. But what if we were a bit more innovative in how we invest this funding to create more sustainable homes so we don’t see the same families moving in and out of emergency accommodation? These dollars would then leverage huge long-term benefits,” says Scott Figenshow CEO of Community Housing Aotearoa, the peak body for community housing groups.
An additional investment of $173m in rental subsidies and supportive services funding is welcome news for people who are homeless or in high needs situations, he says. “The research already confirms the long term benefits of making sure people have secure and adequate homes.
“We’re seeing a positive change in how officials are administering funding – and we hope there is new flexibility to allow this emergency assistance to support Housing First programmes - an approach that has clearly shown significant positive outcomes by sorting out the permanent housing placement first -off, and is matched with individually tailored support services.
“We find it puzzling that the announcement included $100M of capital funding for Housing New Zealand – when they already have access to crown capital. However, this could become a positive step if the capital funding were available to other housing providers, through a housing innovations type of fund.”
Emergency and community housing groups who have years of experience working in this area and a proven track record. They believe it’s really important to have a comprehensive approach to addressing social and affordable housing from emergency to home ownership, and have shown this in their plan – Our Place, all New Zealanders well-housed.
“Logical thinking suggests that a more widely focused strategy is needed to ensure a clear pipeline that allows those placed in emergency accommodation to transition into more permanent social housing at the end of the usual 12 week limit of this transitional support. The lack of availability of social houses is often what gives rise to the need for emergency support,” says Scott Figenshow.
“At the recent Social Investment in Community Housing seminar held by CHA and Philanthropy NZ, we said that $300m of equity per year would be needed to stimulate 1000 more social and affordable homes per year. If government committed half of that per year – for a full 10 years – it would help attract other investors to match it through a social finance initiative. We had hoped this message was getting through to government - about how it can achieve a lot more by altering the way it chooses to invest funds. We remain open to partnering to achieve a significant jump in scale.