Affordable housing a big challenge
One of the catchcries of the recent election, and an ongoing problem in our country, is the lack of sufficient affordable housing.
By affordable, I don’t mean the $350,000-plus bracket, which is what our politicians seem to consider most of us should be able to pay.
I mean good, substantial, warm and dry buildings with a price tag able to be achieved by the thousands of people whose annual income is less than $30,000.
Many elderly people own their own homes, and are regarded by some as being on the pig’s back.
But when one spouse dies and the remaining person lives in the family home alone with all the rates, maintenance and other costs of home ownership, this does not seem to be either economical or sensible. There are families who would give anything to occupy those homes, but the options for the elderly occupant are severely limited.
‘‘You could go into a retirement village,’’ we are told.
That’s all very well, but if even the highly imaginative price put on your house by Quotable Value were realised at sale, in many cases the amount received would not be enough even to get into a retirement village, let alone the ongoing weekly costs of staying there.
The problem is not confined to our country.
In Australia, where the expanding ranks of retirees are reportedly set to boost demand for cheaper housing by as much as 41 per cent, many are resorting to factory-built houses set down in converted caravan parks. So what are the options? Some houses owned by elderly people are set on fairly large sections that could accommodate, for instance, a granny flat or some such.
The owner could sell the main house and then rent the granny flat from the new owners for as long as required. Or the owner could move into the granny flat and let the main house.
But that would mean the elderly person being faced with income, rates and tax issues pertaining to the main house, and most of us would rather avoid that stress as our years advance.
Another possibility is a container house.
While that would not appeal to those who prefer to live in mansions, there are very obvious advantages:
The container( s) can be converted here in New Zealand or imported from China. They can be designed to order. They are tremendously strong, insulated and able to sustain a force 10 earthquake.
Most importantly, they cost nowhere near the Government’s ‘‘affordable’’ price of $350,000.
Many people would turn up their noses at the concept, but overseas there are hotels and blocks of student accommodation constructed out of containers.
I wonder why our building code has not yet addressed this issue.
By the way, I wonder what has happened to the lower cost housing that was originally promised for part of the Aotea Block.
I have seen only mansions, mansions and more mansions.
I suppose these are more lucrative for the developers and shareholders if the truth be known.
This month we hold our last meeting for the year, and it’s a social time. Come along and enjoy the fun. If you do attend, a small contribution to afternoon tea would be welcome.
Grey Power meeting, The Porirua Club, Lodge Place, Porirua November 11, 1.30pm. Ph, Gloria Hazlewood, 233 0162.