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CHA: Time to invest in social housing is now

Community Housing Aotearoa – June 11, 2009

Media Release - CHA: Time to invest in social housing is now

Community Housing Aotearoa (CHA) says the Government will experience “missed opportunities” with both housing and the economy if it does not continue its investment in the sector.

CHA’s response comes in light of an overseas report, released earlier in the week by the University of Ulster in Ireland, which states increased and ongoing investment in social housing for low-income earners is the key to economic stimulus.

But a recent article published in the NZ Herald casts doubt over how long the Government will continue to set aside funds for social housing.

Acting Director of CHA, Dan Neely strongly supported the Irish report – titled Addressing the Economic Downturn: the Case for Increased Investment in Social Housing – in which economists Mike Smyth and Mark Bailey state public investment must focus on areas that can provide greater social and economic benefits during the recession.

“Investing public funds in social housing has been a proven solution overseas in addressing housing issues for those most in need and creating local employment and commerce,” Mr. Neely said.

“The Government will have missed an opportunity for economic stimulus if it shies away from further investment in social and community housing.”

Whilst the Budget ’09 has delivered on funds for housing this coming year, it has not made any plans for extra spending beyond June next year.

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A spokesman for Housing Minister Phil Heatley confirmed that extra spending towards state housing within the next year was “a short-term stimulus and to be reassessed”.

Mr. Neely said the funds that go toward social housing had a good investment return because community housing organisations are provide approximately half of the capital.

“Funds spent appropriately on social housing though the Housing Innovation Fund receive a 50% better return on their housing investment, as opposed to investments made through other avenues,” said Mr. Neely.

“Furthermore, it is an excellent use of taxpayers’ money, as the sector contributes large portions of the capital costs to develop properties,” he said.


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