Christchurch Mayoral Candidates Discuss Housing
At the recent Christchurch Housing Forum held 11 September, mayoral candidates were invited to share their vision for housing in Christchurch. Seven candidates took the opportunity to discuss the current issues and the future of housing in Christchurch. It was an ideas packed afternoon, with a wide range of issues addressed. Candidates freely engaged with each other throughout the discussion, contributing to a positive and optimistic expectation for housing across the spectrum.
Jim Glass expressed his concerns that time and money is being spent on declaring a Climate Change Emergency. He said it was “time and money that could be better spent in other areas”. Lianne Dalziel acknowledged that many of the council owned houses are old and not up to standard. It was also an opportunity for her to reveal future plans to rebuild city housing, particularly for the Shirley community. Blair Anderson talked about building not for a return on investment, but instead for social connectedness. Darryll Park said we are seeing an increase in renting in New Zealand, and therefore “housing issues are going to get more important and gain momentum”. He talked about getting strategic about where we build, who builds, and alternatives, for example private/public partnerships in providing housing.
Stephen McPaike was open and honest about his experience as a social housing tenant. He talked first-hand about the wider implications of living in cold and damp homes, including the impact on work and school when tenants become ill as a result of their living conditions. Peter Wakeman brought up the topic of housing affordability. He used examples from overseas of possible models that could work for Christchurch. He talked about restrictions, for example the Building Code, and access to information, that impact on how we live and build. John Minto said housing is “a crisis for families on low incomes”. He said the “council is going backwards with social housing at a time when the demand is increasing”. He said the priorities are “to look after our most vulnerable in the community first”.
The Christchurch Housing Forum was established in 1999 to meet every six weeks for two hours to discuss housing issues, keep up to date about what is happening in the housing sector, maintain relationships and expand networks. It has a mailing list of over 500 individuals and organisations and is regularly attended by 50+ people. It is administered by Tenants Protection Association (Chch) Inc, and a dedicated group of volunteers. www.christchurchhousingforum.org.nz