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Mixed views on Christchurch stock transfer

22 June 2017

Mixed views on Christchurch stock transfer

Community Housing Aotearoa (CHA) says the shortlisting of consortia is the expected next step in seeing state housing in Christchurch transferred to a new provider, yet the process remains fraught.

CHA Chief Executive, Scott Figenshow, says all three of the shortlisted consortia include New Zealand registered community housing providers, a notable change from previous announcements.

The three have been given the opportunity to present formal proposals to take over up to 2500 Housing New Zealand properties and tenancies in Christchurch, Government announced on June 20.

“They all include experienced not–for-profit community housing providers with capacity to grow. They are a safe pair of hands with a proven history in providing warm, safe, social and affordable housing; with a track record of positive experiences for tenants and working with communities.”

The three short-listed respondents each bring together an experienced New Zealand registered community housing provider with equity providers. The three consortia are:

Community Futures Christchurch, a consortium whose members are the community housing provider Trust House Limited, Whitehelm Capital Pty Ltd, and Broadspectrum (New Zealand) Limited
Ōtautahi Community Housing Consortium, made up of the community housing provider Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust and Morrison & Co PPP GP 2 Limited
A third consortium whose members are the community housing provider Compass Housing Services Co (New Zealand) Limited, AMP Capital Investors Limited, and Brookfield Financial Australia Securities Limited.

“CHA continues to be critical of the process used by government for these stock transfers," Mr Figenshow said.

“Only one of the three will likely be selected, which means that as a country we lose out on the capability and resources the other consortia could bring towards increasing the supply of social and affordable housing while we continue to have a housing crisis.

“We are also concerned about the lack of transparency on how the proceeds from the transaction will be re-invested to meet Christchurch’s housing needs, given this transaction only includes 150 additional social homes and no specific targets for affordable assisted rental or assisted home ownership.

“It should have included a plan to at least double the stock and activate supply across the housing affordability continuum.

“We’d hope to see this process capitalize on the available capacity in all three community housing providers selected rather than chewing up considerable resources in this procurement process.

“That would be true industry development that would get much closer to the social investment aims we hear from government.

At the recent CHA IMPACT 2017 conference the community housing sector had the opportunity to discuss the stock transfer process and expressed views ranging from the importance of finding a more cost-effective process; better support for tenant engagement through the process; and the need to set clear long-term tenant and community outcomes as a higher priority than the financial return delivered to the crown.

“Most would agree that stock transfers are an important mechanism for helping New Zealand’s community housing organisations to scale up quickly so long as that is done in a manner that avoids potential loss of a public asset that had been created by previous generations.

“Yet again we are missing opportunities to end this housing crisis and truly achieve the potential that exists across the community housing sector,” Mr Figenshow said.

“While it is good that government continues to proceed along with the Social Housing Reform Programme, it’s clear that the scale of the reforms is well below what New Zealand needs and far short of what would see ‘all New Zealanders well housed’.

-ends-

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