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Christchurch Housing Initiative gets underway

Christchurch Housing Initiative gets underway

Families struggling to get onto the Christchurch property ladder could soon get an extra helping hand.

From 1 November a new housing initiative, Te Whāriki tū-ā-Rongo (Christchurch Housing Initiative), will provide selected eligible home buyers the extra money they need to bridge the gap between their savings and the deposit threshold required by banks and other mortgage lenders.

No interest will be charged and participating households will have up to 15 years to repay the money.

To be eligible for the scheme, applicants will need to have at least one household member in full-time employment and not own or rent out a home.

Priority will be given to applicants with household income at, or below, the Christchurch median of $83,000, with children, and who would otherwise be unable to enter the housing market.

Buying a home could soon become easier for some first home buyers in Christchurch.

Christchurch City Councillor Vicki Buck, who instigated the initiative for Christchurch, says it is great news for modest income families who often miss out on support as their income is considered too high for certain subsidies, yet doesn’t allow them to save enough for a deposit.

“This is for people who can afford to make regular mortgage repayments but who may have difficulty saving for a deposit. I’m so pleased to see this get underway – it’s been a long time in the making,” says Cr Buck.

“The initiative’s name, Te Whāriki tū-ā-Rongo, means crossing the threshold to the realm of peace. In this context, it's about a family crossing a threshold of home ownership to achieve more stable and secure lives and wellbeing – which are positive social benefits for them individually and our community as a whole.”

The Christchurch Housing Initiative was first announced in April 2017. It is being jointly funded by the Government and Christchurch City Council, with each contributing $3 million.

The Christchurch affiliate of Habitat for Humanity is going to administer the initiative on behalf of the Council and the Crown.

Home buyers helped through the initiative will still be eligible for other existing Government first home ownership incentives, including the Kiwisaver HomeStart Grant. Unlike many other shared equity schemes, they will be able to buy existing homes rather than having to buy newly built homes – giving participants the option of remaining in the communities they are already established in.

Habitat for Humanity says it will start taking applications from 1 November.

“We expect to support approximately 50 Christchurch families to buy a home of their own over the next three years, which is a fantastic thing for these individuals and our city as a whole,” Habitat for Humanity Christchurch spokesperson Peter Judd says.

To find out more, or to pre-register your interest in the scheme, please visit christchurchhousinginitiative.org.nz(external link).

Read the Council report(external link).

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