New homes may not be enough
News that Central Hawke’s Bay is to receive 10 new Housing NZ properties has been welcomed as a “good start”, but questions remain if they are enough to solve the district’s social housing shortage.
Housing and urban development minister Phil Twyford visited Napier late last month to announce the locations of the 6400 new public houses his Labour-led coalition Government intends to build under its $4 billion Public Housing Plan.
Twyford announced that 330 will be built in the East Coast region, which includes Hawke’s Bay. In addition to the 49 state houses already being built in Napier and Hastings, another 186 would be built in the two cities over the next four years, he said, while Central Hawke’s Bay would become home to 10 new properties.
Scott Gallacher, deputy chief executive of housing with the Ministry of Social Development, said the new CHB properties would be five 3-bedroom homes and five 1-bedroom homes.
“In addition to that, we are also actively working with local organisations to make some transitional housing available in Waipukurau. This will give local families and individuals a safe place to stay when they find themselves with nowhere to live. Transitional housing also includes support services to help people find a longer-term home,” he said.
The extra housing and support would make a difference for those at the “hard end” of the housing shortage, but there was “a lot more to be done to meet demand for public housing”, he said.
Labour Party List MP and junior whip Kieran McAnulty, was “personally stoked” at the announcement, which he said recognised the housing crisis was no longer “just a city issue.”
“People moving from the cities into our region is a good thing and something we welcome and celebrate. However it has put pressure on the housing stock, particularly as the number of rentals available is only just meeting demand — in some areas it isn’t meeting demand.
“I’m personally stoked at this announcement. I’ve been lobbying hard for this issue on behalf of CHB and it’s great to see that the district is no longer being overlooked by Government. So I’m very pleased — it’s a good start.”
CHB District Council is currently developing a new strategy to address the social housing challenges facing the district, and earlier this year wrote to Housing NZ and the Ministry for Social Development about the issue.
The letter was prompted after a meeting late last year between council and groups in the sector, following a CHB Mail article last July about a teenage couple who were forced to move into an old converted woolshed with their 6-dayold baby in the midst of the worse storm of the year, due to a lack of emergency housing.
An MSD spokesperson said all 34 of its properties were full at the time and the department had no plans to acquire any more, despite youth services workers saying there was a need for more social housing in the district.
District councillor Kelly Annand, council’s community development committee chairwoman, said she was excited by the news and grateful the department had listened to the needs of the community.
“I believe it was a result of leadership and advocacy from our community that got us on the radar, which is encouraging that it works,” she said.
It was now up to the community to work with central government to ensure the 10 new properties were allocated to those “who they were meant to serve.”
“I would like to see a working and advisory group set up and facilitated by council, so that central government agencies have a place to land their conversations and get advice from community. I honestly don’t know if 10 is enough, however any new houses that … ensure affordable home security for people who need it the most, will have a positive flow-on effect,” Annand said.
Phil Twyford announced his Labour-led coalition Government’s new $4 billion public housing plan on August 24 at the home of Stephanie Belcher in Tamatea, Napier, along with Labour MPs Meka Whaitiri and Stuart Nash.