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The current environment

Latest News - Community Housing Sector Letter of Expectations

In July 2020 Community Housing Aotearoa, on behalf of New Zealand’s community housing providers, has sent a 'Letter of expectations' to members of Parliament and political parties. The letter seeks their commitment to a set of specific actions to fix New Zealand’s housing system so that everyone has a permanent affordable home. In addition to the actions in the letter, additional context is provided in the 'Frequently asked questions' sent alongside the letter.

Additional Background

The community housing operating environment is constantly changing and evolving. Community housing organisations have to be nimble to respond to changing local needs, government priorities and innovative new programmes.Keeping up with all that is going on can be a challenge. Below are some articles, links and documents to orient yourself to the sector. A good resource on the current issues and responses is the July/July 2019 edition of HousingWorks, the journal of the Australasian Housing Institute.This edition, the largest ever produced, is a Spotlight on New Zealand.Thank you to the Australasian Housing Institute for their partnership in producing a series of informative articles.

Marc Slade explains Community Housing Aotearoa’s push for a change in attitude to housing, and how it’s all culminated in something called The Shift Aotearoa - what does it mean.pdf .

The Shift Aotearoa Conference 2019.pdf brought together over 320 housing sector delegates from 5th to 7th June 2019 in Wellington to spark collaborative action for one of Aotearoa/New Zealand’s most urgent problems.Scott Figenshow from Community Housing Aotearoa and Jessica Hutchings and Ruth Berry from Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities (BBHTC), report back from the Conference frontline where a sense of urgency was strongly felt.

On the 6th June at The Shift Aotearoa Conference 2019 – on invitation from Community Housing Aotearoa – the New Zealand Chief Human Rights Commissioner, Paul Hunt, made a plea for what we all deserve: The Right to a Decent Home - Keynote Address.pdf .

Brennan Rigby, with the Independent Maori Statutory Board, considers notions of traction and how they can be used to ensure better outcomes in Maori housing; outcomes that stick in Kaupapa Kainga.pdf .

Homeownership rates in New Zealand have been declining since 1991, and are now the lowest they’ve been since 1951. Major Campbell Roberts with the Salvation Army steps up on behalf of the KiwiBuy.pdf campaign team (CHA, Habitat for Humanity and Housing Foundation) to give an impassioned plea for why the programme, or at the very least something similar, needs to be implemented poste haste.

The Auckland Community Housing Providers Network (ACHPN) is a network of 21 different community housing providers, each of them with a specialty and a story. This article reveals how the Auckland Community Housing Providers Network is raising the profile of the sector through a new campaign called We Believe.pdf . You can watch the We Believe video at ACHPN website: www.achpn.net.nz

In Putting the Community in Community Housing.pdf, CHA’s David Zussman and Marc Slade look at how tenant participation in decisions about their housing produces a multitude of positive flow-on effects that cannot be ignored.

The importance of putting residents first is movingly told in Meet A Tenant.pdf which tells the story of Izzy Kingie. Izzie is aged 26 and has been living in social housing in Auckland for around three years. She tells HousingWORKS about moving from a state of fear to safety.

So often, we’re hearing doomsday reports when it comes to community and social housing, with the happy tales seemingly few and far between. In this focus on New Zealand, Housing New Zealand turns the tables to give us Good News Stories from Housing New Zealand.pdf about their housing communities that are sure to put a smile on the face of readers and provide some inspiration.

A series of articles look at how we can deliver more community housing and ensure it is fit for purpose.Julie Scott from Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust shares her organisation’s prototype for combatting a rapidly burgeoning problem in affordable housing – Inclusionary Zoning and Assisted Homeownership in Queenstown Lakes.pdf based on their unique housing market.

The reasons why community housing trusts are uniquely positioned to implement IZ is described in the article Value Uplift Capture Retention and Recycling.pdf. Scott Figenshow and Paul Gilberd emphasise the importance of retention of affordability in the housing market, and the role community housing providers can play, in this article originally published in the New Zealand Law Society's member publication The Property Lawyer.

Verney Ryan from Beacon Pathway illustrates why the community housing industry should be leading the way when it comes to healthy, sustainable living standards in Making Community Housing More Sustainable.pdf .

Sustainable Communities in Growing Cities.pdf illustrates how community housing partnerships are delivering sustainable, mixed tenure communities.

Jill Hawkey from the Christchurch Methodist Mission uses Blenheim as a cautionary tale of how a township can quickly slip into a homelessness crisis. Addressing an Unfolding Housing Crisis.pdf describes how homelessness in Blenheim has only recently become a significant problem. In 2013, the National Government’s Housing Minister, Nick Smith, launched the FirstHome initiative in Blenheim, enabling first-home buyers to buy an ‘un-needed state house’.

Lessons From Growth.pdf looks at the rapid growth of CHPs in New Zealand in recent years, and offers Christchurch’s Otautahi Community Housing Trust, Accessible Properties and Haumaru Housing as persuasive examples from which others can learn.


Recent History

In the period between 2014-2016 there was a lot of change in the environment that New Zealand’s community housing sector operates in.

The housing capital grants fund ceased and income related rent subsidies were extended to the sector.

The Community Housing Regulatory Authority (CHRA) was established and discussions around the charitable and tax status of community housing groups continued, culminating in clarity of status for 99% of community housing providers in late 2015.

Government began a process looking at how communities might take responsibility for social housing instead of the traditional state housing model, looking initially at the Invercargill and Tauranga areas, beginning the process of divesting some of their social housing to community housing groups. December 2016 saw this process extended to Christchurch.

“New Zealand community housing providers have been out there doing the hard yards for years - we believe that these assets (HNZC houses) that the state has developed, need to stay in New Zealand hands and local community housing organisations are the best organisations to maintain those assets. At the end of the day good outcomes mean the New Zealand tax payer pays less money than they are currently paying to allow people to live in old, cold and mouldy housing by giving tenants warm, safe and dry homes, enabling strong connections to their communities.” Scott Figenshow, CEO, Community Housing Aotearoa.

Special Housing Areas (SHA) were set up by Government to increase the development of housing over the country. Many of these SHAs were in Auckland where affordability thresholds were established for developments. No requirement for providing a certain number of affordable homes have been required in other SHAs over the country.

Collaborations between community housing groups, iwi and the private sector have developed and the making affordable homes happen website will show you some of the collaborations that have created more social and affordable housing.

Fairfax - Homeless Amy Burke Christchurch.jpg

Coinciding with these changes were challenges for community housing organisations to meet the increasing demand for their housing and a growing need for the development of a source of capital investment to support this growth.

As the country responds to a growing housing crisis some areas have shown particular housing difficulty: Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown. You can find more information on these areas in our resources page. Read CHA’s summary of the housing situation in Christchurch here and the article on emergency housing and homelessness here:

Spotlight on Homelessness Housing WORKS mock.pdf

Proposed changes by Government to the Residential Tenancies Act to address low quality rental housing does not go far enough. Many community groups are calling for a housing Warrant of Fitness (WoF) to be mandated under the Act.

Local authorities are calling for the ability to receive the income related rental subsidy for their tenants. Some are supporting the establishment of community housing organisations to manage these tenancies and receive IRRS for their new tenants while others are divesting their housing stock to community housing providers. Read more here.

In response to the need for more emergency housing in May 2016 the Government announced a pre-budget commitment to $41.4 million over four years to better respond to emergency housing need. Government, through the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), has established a number of policy initiatives to address emergency and social housing shortfalls and the recent MSD purchasing strategy, 13 December 2016, can be found here. A statement from this strategy shows:

“Over the past year the Government has invested another $144 million to help community housing providers increase the supply of social housing places. MSD is looking for more than 6,400 new places over the next four years. As a result we’ve seen more community housing providers come on board. Last year we had 26 registered providers and this year we have 41. As at the end of September (2016) they were supporting over 3,100 kiwi households."

Commentator and Economist, Shamubeel Eaqub in Housing Finance International; Autumn 2016, looked at the state of housing the housing market in New Zealand. He comments that while there are sufficient numbers of houses being built through the cycle, it is not accessible to all.

The key points Shamubeel Eaqub makes are:

  • The New Zealand housing market is hot
  • Auckland in particular is overheated
  • The effects are spilling over to other regions
  • This is in part due to government policies
  • Many new policies have been tried, none are having the desired effect. Some have bought time
  • The solutions are known, but politically unpalatable.

Read more here.

Listen to this podcast from January 4, 2017, 'Outspoken on homelessness', where Demelza Leslie, talks to Scott Figenshow of CHA, UNICEF's Vivian Maidaborne and Human Rights Commissioner, David Rutherford about homelessness in New Zealand.

Here's another podcast from January 2016 on some of the current housing issues again with, Scott Figenshow, alongside Wellington City Council councillor, Paul Eagle, and Labour housing spokesperson, Phil Twyford.