15 June 2011
Establishment of a dedicated Social Housing Unit paves way for next phase of change
Community Housing Aotearoa has welcomed the Government announcement this week that an independent Social Housing Unit is to be established from July 2011 to work alongside the community housing sector to support the delivery of much-needed future housing solutions.
“Setting up a semi-autonomous unit within the Department of Building and Housing is a positive new development and fits with the vision for social housing first submitted to government by an advisory group in April last year,” says David McCartney, Executive Officer of Community Housing Aotearoa.
“What this now means for our sector is that we could finally see a framework emerge that is dedicated to the growth and constructive partnership potential we have to offer, and that is totally separated from Housing New Zealand Corporation. Under this new framework it appears Housing New Zealand Corporation will be left to follow the reconfiguration of its housing assets, as already underway and within its own business model, while all other social housing providers are supported by the Social Housing Unit to generate new developments.
“An appropriation of $40 million for helping this vision of a parallel social housing sector to emerge is a start but only a small start. We are still waiting for more detail but also appreciate that one of the first tasks for the new Social Housing Unit will be to develop what is being called a Social Housing Investment Strategy, and that there will be a Ministerial Advisory Panel to oversee the progress on this,” says David McCartney.
“Given the continued emphasis placed by the Minister of Housing on how well members of Community Housing Aotearoa are collectively performing as viable housing providers already, we expect we will be fully included in helping to inform the development of that strategy.
“Our concerns will be to see that it truly enables our members to play their part in delivering affordable housing options to those who are in most need. The new direction we’re heading has to be one that raises the bar for everyone. It has to be a direction that genuinely responds to the significant and longstanding housing needs that confront our kaupapa Maori and niche provider members every day”.
“One of our messages for this next phase of the reform of social housing is that social housing growth is not only about bricks and mortar. It has to include issues of affordability and the strongest possible focus on people’s community-based needs. Providing volume to ensure that New Zealand has an adequate supply of housing needed for its ageing population and future generations of New Zealanders is certainly part of what’s needed, but so are doorways to a greater diversity of housing options and types of housing based on principles such as mixed neighbourhoods and communities.
“Collaboration will be essential and we will continue to build closer relationships with potential partners as well as undertaking other initiatives such as our quality assurance programme for members of Community Housing Aotearoa”.