The Prime Minister has signalled that significant attention will be given to social housing during the next term by appointing three Ministers that will be involved in the reforms in this sector. Nick Smith remains as Housing Minister but Paula Bennett steps into the new role of Social Housing Minister, and Bill English becomes the Minister responsible for Housing New Zealand.
The Government’s goal is for 20% of the country’s social housing to be provided by non-government organisations by 2017. Currently the non-government sector only provides approximately 5,000 units, or around 6% of the country’s social housing.
In April this year the Government announced that it would allow selected community groups will be able to offer income related rents for people needing social housing and people will be able to test their eligibility through Work and Income. It also announced that from 1 July 2014 state house tenancies would be reviewable, a significant shift from the previous state house for life system. Those changes are consistent with the April 2010 Home and Housed: A Vision of Social Housing New Zealand report.
While there is unlikely to be radical reform or a significant sell down of Housing NZ stock, these appointments signal the renewed focus in this sector to ensure a continued shift towards changing the social housing sector and seeing a substantial increase in housing provided by social agencies.