10 March 2021

Southern public housing stock to grow by 83 homes

Kāinga Ora and community housing providers plan to deliver 83 new public houses in Southland and Otago by June 2022.

But Kāinga Ora regional director Tim Blake said it was too early to say where they would be built.

Planning was progressing well and the agency was working with local councils, iwi and other stakeholders to ensure the homes met community needs, Blake said.

Kāinga Ora is the Government’s primary housing and urban development delivery arm.

A Ministry of Housing and Urban Development spokesperson said there were plans to build a further 65 homes by 2024 under the Public Housing Plan 2021-2024.

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The plan does not identify Southland as a high-need location.

The spokesperson said nine homes had been built in Southland and Otago since the 2018 Public Housing Plan was published.

In March 2020, a spokesperson said the ministry intended to build 105 spaces in Southland and Otago by 2022, with 40 planned for Invercargill.

Only eight had been built by June 2020, but Ministry said it was on track to meet the 2022 target.

Its December 2020 quarterly public housing report shows the number of applicants on the public housing register in Southland and Otago grew by 27 in the past year to reach 532.

Southland Housing Action Forum housing champion Anna Stevens said of the 532 on the register, about 150 were Southlanders.

Assessing the actual need was currently difficult she said, as lower interest rates had encouraged more investment property buyers, leading to more stock on the rental market.

Housing brokers appointed by the Ministry of Social Development and national trust Emerge Aotearoa in late-2020 helped many families avoid emergency housing, Stevens said.

Southland Housing Action Forum Housing Champion Anna Stevens says families are getting more help to secure rental properties.

Their role is to build relationships with developers and landlord to help families move into homes before they “have to go to into motels.”

The ministry’s December 2020 report shows 387 emergency housing grants were approved in Southland and Otago, which was down from 630 in 2019.

Stevens welcomed the news of new public houses for Southland.

“It makes a huge difference to a family if that have a home. It’s stability,” she said.

Stevens was also fairly confident that the goal of 83 new homes was achievable if an active buying plan was developed.

She expected the new homes would be a combination of new builds and existing properties, and said it would be effective to have someone on the ground looking for purchasing opportunities.

The needn’t all be big family homes, Stevens said, as buying up flats could easily add to the number.

“What would be amazing is if they bought inner-city apartments and renovated them,” she said.

Stevens said there were pockets throughout Southland in need of public housing and anticipated the new homes would be in areas where people were on the waiting list – like Invercargill, Gore, Te Anau and Otautau.

Source Stuff.co.nz