With 1000 to 2000 Housing New Zealand (HNZ) homes to be transferred to community housing providers (CHPs) this year, the Government has announced that it intends to begin with Tauranga and Invercargill. HNZ owns 1250 homes in Tauranga and 370 in Invercargill, but it has yet to be disclosed how many houses will be transferred.
The Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett and HNZ Minister Bill English have chosen Tauranga and Invercargill as areas with “stable demand for social housing and active community housing providers keen to consider the next steps.”
Discussions are gaining momentum with CHPs and iwi, and a number are showing interest. Accessible Properties (specialising in housing disabled people) and Habitat for Humanity are active in both Invercargill and Tauranga, and have indicated that they would consider taking on social housing, but require further details. The Ngati Potiki iwi has two registered CHPs in Tauranga and has said that it would be interested in purchasing the 149 state houses in Papamoa alone, or the full 1250 state houses in Tauranga as part of a collective.
The New Zealand Herald reported that Tauranga’s main CHPs were confident that the deal would be positive for those involved and help ease the demand for social housing. Tommy Wilson, the executive director of Te Tuinga Whanau Support Services and a board member of Tauranga’s Ngati Ranginui iwi, commented, “those 1250 houses could be turned into 3000 houses by utilising the land.”
It is interesting to note that the Ministry of Social Development’s (MSD) Purchasing Intentions document has designated Tauranga as an area of higher projected growth in the number of households compared with the national average, and wishes to purchase an additional 100 social housing places. While the CHPs in Tauranga are keen to better utilise land and build more houses, there may be a concern that any purchase of scale will tie up CHPs’ capital and push back the development of more houses.