INDEPENDENT NEWS

Housing Budget a balance between urgent and long-term needs

Published: Thu 30 May 2019 06:09 PM
Habitat for Humanity New Zealand commends the announcement of a range of new funds in housing, largely geared to address the urgent needs of the chronically homeless, those in government-funded transitional housing, and those deemed at imminent risk of becoming homeless.
“Homelessness is an unacceptable reality for thousands of New Zealanders – a reality this budget aims to both relieve and prevent” says CEO Claire Szabó. “Alongside new investment in mental health and addiction services, the budget brings good news for our most vulnerably-housed people” she said.
The housing charity notes the government has focused its new resources in housing this year at the critical end of the housing crisis. “While this rightly addresses those in dire need, a long-term plan will be necessary going forward” say Szabó. According to the charity, this would allow households to achieve their best possible housing outcomes, and see more families living independently of housing support.
“Solving the housing crisis in the long-term will ultimately require investment at a range of points on the housing spectrum” notes Ms Szabó. “We need to be intentional in developing pathways for people out of precarious situations and into sustainable, secure housing”.
Habitat for Humanity has worked with more than 500 New Zealand households on low-to-modest incomes, building homes and moving families into home ownership. Based on this work, the charity recognises five components essential for such families to have a pathway into home ownership: pre-selection support services, secure-tenure rental, ongoing support and training (such as in financial capability), a subsidy scheme (such as rent-to-buy) and access to a well-priced home.
Of these five components for long-term housing independence, the government has announced support for one in today’s budget.
Habitat for Humanity is heartened by the announcement of financial capability training for 1,200 Pasifika households over the next four years to ready them for home ownership. “Pasifika households face major challenges accessing home ownership. Whilst Pākeha households own their own home at a rate of 56.8%, only 18.5% of Pasifika households do” said Szabó. This is down from 26% in 2001, according to a 2013 report from Statistics New Zealand. “The inequity is stark and needs addressing through a long-term strategy”.
“This investment improving financial capability of Pasifika households is the first step of assisting families into home ownership”, says Ms Szabó. “We’re now awaiting the Government’s kiwibuild reset shortly, to see if further components will unlock home ownership pathways for more kiwi families.”
Habitat for Humanity looks forward to working with the government on its long-term housing strategy.

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