Bennett: Social housing for those who need it
Is this some of the housing Paula has on offer - or is it a propaganda photo
26 November, 2014
Meeting the housing needs of all New Zealanders requires us to make changes right along the housing pipeline.
As Minister of Social Housing I feel a huge responsibility to those who need help to find a safe place for them and their families to stay. It's something I am committed to.
But the realities of the situation are that we have finite resources and, especially in Auckland, it's challenging and expensive to house more and more people on the taxpayer dollar.
To give you an idea, it would cost on average around $40,000 a year to support a family in a three-bedroom social house in Tamaki. Anyone who has been reading the news will also know just how expensive it is to buy houses for social housing.
If you look at the picture nationwide, we support more than 192,000 people in social houses at a cost of around $800 million per year, and spend another $1.12 billion on 286,000 individuals and families with Accommodation Supplement.
I know it's tough finding private rentals, in Auckland in particular. So here's what we are doing to address the current supply issues.
We are freeing up Government land to build more houses and progressing Special Housing Areas to get houses built faster. We've got changes to the RMA currently before Parliament to cut through planning delays.
At the urgent end of the spectrum, we are funding emergency housing beds for those in critical need, both supporting existing providers struggling to keep the doors open and funding new beds with some of the $41 million announced in this year's Budget.
We are building new houses on Housing New Zealand land, with more than 600 already underway in Auckland alone. That's making better use of big old-fashioned sections and intensifying the housing.
We're going as fast as we can within the constraints of the council consenting process, and pushing back against Nimby neighbours who would rather see their suburbs gentrified and social housing moved ever further outwards.
One of the best ways I can make positive change is by making better use of the current stock of houses we have. Many of these houses are not being used for those who most need them.
I'm talking about people who did need them once but now could manage in a private rental or even a couple living in a three-bedroom house. We need those houses for families in need, so we will be asking them to move somewhere smaller.
We have already done more than 4000 tenancy reviews for people who are paying market rents and close to it. Some 498 have now moved into private accommodation and 72 have purchased their own homes. This frees up hundreds of homes we can put people who have been waiting on the register into.
In the coming months we have more changes to come, including ways to help those who decide to choose a better life outside Auckland.
This is building on the success of the $3k to Christchurch which saw 1700 people take up jobs and opportunities in Christchurch's rebuild. We have recently extended this to the whole of New Zealand.
None of the solutions in this space are easy or quick. But the Government has a plan to address housing needs right across the housing market and it will help those in need.
We are absolutely committed to providing social housing for those who most need it, but ultimately, we want people to get ahead and live independent lives. That's why the good economic growth we're seeing with rising incomes and a record number of jobs available is the best way this Government can help New Zealanders.