Af­ford­able hous­ing a big chal­lenge

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

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.

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