Otago Daily Times
Professional workers among the property disenfranchised
CENTRAL Otago’s overheated housing market is leaving professionals such as police, teachers, and nurses shut out of rentals, and blocked from getting on the property ladder.
That was the message delivered to Central Otago district councillors at a full meeting in Alexandra on Wednesday.
A report was tabled examining the council’s role in providing affordable housing, provoking robust discussion among councillors around the word ‘‘providing’’.
The report by council chief adviser Saskia Righarts said there had been an overall 0.49% increase in house prices in Central Otago to the year ended September to an average sale price of $560,116, including the lockdown period, but more recent data showed an increase to $605,000 — an increase of 14.2% over the past year.
Average rents had increased 1.24% to $407 per week for the year ending September, including the period of Governmentintroduced rental freezes as a result of Covid19 and banks offering mortgage holidays but more recent data showed a jump of 9% to $490 per week, Ms Righarts said.
Queenstown Lakes Affordable Community Housing Trust executive officer Julie Scott was a guest speaker and said the trust had helped people — key workers — like teachers, police, and nurses into housing.
In 14 years, the trust had helped 177 households into accommodation across developments in the Queenstown Lakes district and had amassed $27 million in net assets.
The assistedownership example used was the trust’s ‘‘secure home’’ programme.
The cost to the council amounted to $1.7 million in land and cash over the past 14 years, $24.4 million came from developers under inclusionary zoning (where developers set aside part of a development for affordable housing), and $4.8 million in Crown grants.
Her report swayed many, but not all councillors, in favour of adopting a similar scheme.
Cr Stephen Jeffery said before hearing the report he would have been opposed.
Cr Tamah Alley was most supportive of a similar scheme because ‘‘you want general people to continue living here and not streets full of holiday homes that only the rich can afford’’.
She also pointed out the low cost of the Queenstown Lakes scheme to its council and therefore ratepayers.
Councillors Cheryl Laws and Nigel McKinlay took issue with the word ‘‘provide’’.
Cr McKinlay went further and said the 177 households assisted by the Queenstown model did ‘‘not really cut it’’ for him.
Cr Martin McPherson agreed the council had a role and suggested substituting the word ‘‘provide’’ with the term ‘‘facilitate’’.
Cr Stu Duncan said any programme had to be implemented across the district and some of his constituents in Ranfurly were in the lower socioeconomic group a scheme could provide for.
Mayor Tim Cadogan said any central government moves to take the heat out of housing were unlikely to filter to Central Otago.
The council agreed in principle it had a role in affordable housing (including discussions with the Central Otago Housing Trust) based on the Queenstown Lakes Affordable Community Housing Trust model.
It further agreed to staff investigating inclusionary zoning as part of the work programme for the district plan.
Cr McKinlay opposed.