Southland Housing Action Forum

SHAF

The Chamber is one of the funders committed to supporting Southland Housing Action Forum (SHAF).

Throughout 2020 we have continued our purpose to facilitate and coordinate relationships between stake holders and educate the community on the problems, solutions and opportunities in the housing eco-system.   

This has included building networks across the housing sector to encourage new development, highlight the need for more social housing and encourage diversity of thought around what housing solutions for the future might look like.   

Our driver is quality, suitable housing to encourage economic and social  development in the province.   

For more information contact our Housing Champion, Anna Stevens. 

3 December 2020

The recent announcement of the proposed subdivision of land between Tramway Road and Centre Street will provide significant housing infrastructure investment to the city, provided a plan change permitting the subdivision is approved.  Strong interest in the land serves to reinforce the demand. 

It is proposed that the development will include both affordable housing and housing solutions for a broad spectrum of the community – 90% of the buying public.   Last month I talked about increasing supply being the fundamental pillar that will change the housing landscape and it appears this could play a part in Invercargill’s solutions. Albeit not an immediate fix.     

The waiting list for Social Housing remains steady at around 150 but the numbers in emergency (or hotel accommodation) has dropped significantly which is heartening.

While inflated house prices continue to dominate the media and policies to address the increase in those whom are homeless continue to be focus areas, there remains an unaddressed issue bubbling in the background in the baby boomer generation that is about to burst into retirement.  There is research to suggest that this phase of life, benefits from social connection.  For many a license to occupy in large rest home complexes are unattainable and the economies of down sizing does not always stack in this market.  We need to consider therefore how to create housing solutions that create social connections, don’t require significant capital outlay and also free up larger style housing stock for the new generation of families. 

There is certainly no shortage is issues to continue working on in 2021. 

3 November 2020

It seems every other day we see a headline disclaiming that NZ is in a housing crisis.  It’s the same rhetoric we’ve heard for many years, but what’s actually being done about it?   

With interest rates being at an all time low, Loan to Value (LVR) ratio’s on the horizon again, and expats flooding home, it’s difficult in reality to see any significant changes on the horizon.  What that means is that housing is becoming more inaccessible for our vulnerable, first home buyers and middle income families.  

In its simplest form the increases in prices is due to an imbalance in supply and demand.  This perhaps coupled with investors chasing returns in an otherwise low return market.  The only way we can make housing more accessible to all is to increase supply. This requires creative thinking with regards to section size and housing configuration. Considering co-housing and alternative housing models also need to be on the table. 

While locally Southland is not immune to supply and demand issues, comparative to other centres we do not register on the radar of high problem areas as seen nationally.  The result – we need to address the issues ourselves locally. 

So how do we increase supply?  There are plenty of developers looking for opportunities.  We need Councils to work collaboratively and quickly to ensure commercially friendly time frames can be met, without compromising quality and urban aesthetic.  We need to review vacant land availability and the prospect of inner city living.  We need to look at how we can create alternative housing models to  more effectively accommodate our elderly by considering co-housing that creates both economic and social benefits.  There is no one silver bullet, a combination of factors need to come together. It will take a coordinated, collaborative response involving all community stakeholders. 

29 September 2020

The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises adequate housing as a fundamental human right.  SHAF is striving to ensure that all those living in Southland have a home the meets their needs and circumstances.  That means having security of tenure, and ensuring warm dry housing.  As Dale from the Castle coined we believe everyone has the right to a home, not just a house.

Recognising that Southland was amidst a housing crisis the Southland Housing Action Forum (SHAF) was formed in 2018 by passionate and driven community leaders.  In April 2020 amidst the Covid-19 locked down I was appointed the Housing Champion to advocate, lobby and promote much needed consideration of the housing eco system.

The issues are broad and range from the suitability and availability of the housing stock to meet the needs of all users,  the quality of the rental pool, affordability which is ultimately driven by supply and demand and accessibility to land where it is sought by the consumer to develop new housing stock.   Another issue for consideration is diversity of housing stock including medium density and inner-city living.

While covid-19 may have alleviated some of the pressures with the absence of new international student arrivals and a reduction of tourism numbers now is the time to be evaluating how we can influence the eco-system to better perform in times of pressure.  This requires a collaborative and engaged effort from all of the regularity authorities, developers, users and suppliers.

Change won’t happen overnight, but collectively we can make it happen.

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