INDEPENDENT NEWS

Govt plans threaten supply of social and affordable housing

Published: Mon 3 Nov 2014 12:49 PM
Government plans threaten supply of social and affordable housing
A network of ten community housing groups has come together to raise its concerns over the Government's plan to sell thousands of state houses under its housing reform programme.
The network of not-for-profit, social enterprises and charitable trusts, called the Auckland Community Housing Network, is particularly worried the Government has given no guarantee the money gained from an asset sale would be reinvested in the housing sector.
The network, which is made up of groups that help provide social and affordable housing services to low income families, said in a statement that it was widely recognised there is a shortage of social and affordable housing in a majority of New Zealand's cities.
"Selling housing at a time of shortage makes no sense unless the funds from the sales are invested back so that there is a net increase in new social and affordable housing."
The organisation accepts some HNZ houses must be sold to allow for redevelopment of existing stock and funding of new social and affordable housing.
However, the money raised must be ring-fenced for the sector, otherwise, it said, "The sales could lead to a decline in the total number of houses owned collectively by the State or community housing organisations.
"Any funding from the sale of HNZ assets should be reinvested in either HNZ or community housing organisations to ensure the number of social houses increases over time."
This objective could be threatened by the Government's suggestion that it may partner with developers in the private sector as well as community groups, and use some of the funding from the sales as subsidies.
"To the maximum extent possible, ownership of social housing should reside with entities that are motivated by social good objectives and are not expected to provide commercial investment returns to their shareholders."
Background
To date the government has been encouraging community housing organisations to build and increase the supply of affordable housing. The community housing sector distinguishes itself from the private market by holding and retaining housing for the good of the community. Members are either not-for-profit, social enterprise and /or charitable trusts that are bound by their constitutions to reinvest any surplus and profits within the communities they serve. The majority are also registered community housing providers under the government new social housing regulatory frame work.
Network members provide a wide range of housing solutions across the total housing continuum. These include emergency housing, supportive and affordable rental, sweat equity, rent to buy and shared ownership.
Community housing providers work in partnership with other community and social service agencies to develop healthy and resilient neighbourhoods.
ENDS

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