$5 billion to house poorest Kiwis

MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 13:19 03/07/2014

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Community housing providers have outlined their vision for building the 15,000 homes they say are needed to meet the demand of needy New Zealanders.

Community Housing Aotearoa (CHA) puts the cost of building the homes at $5 billion over five years, saying it should be met through government subsidies, land grants and private philanthropy.

The sector has said it can't meet the Government's target of providing 20 per cent of assisted housing accommodation by 2017 without major changes to the way they are funded.

CHA director Scott Figenshow unveiled the plan at the sector's conference in Nelson today.

"What we've developed is a structure where the cost is met through three different sources - debt, land contributions and grants," Figenshow said.

A total of $2.5b would be raised through mechanisms such as a housing bond to generate capital from the private sector, he said.

A further $1.25b would come from land contributions, using a mix of Crown land, special housing areas, local authority land and value gained from intensification of existing land.

"For example, a Housing New Zealand property that has a three-bedroom home on a half-acre (2000 square metres) section could be removed to make way for two or three smaller units on that same block of land," Figenshow said.

The remaining $1.25b would come from government grants.

Housing New Zealand returned $170 million in dividends and tax to the Government in the 2013 financial year, which could be put towards the Government's contribution, he said.

"What we need is a commitment from all sides to make this plan happen, to get New Zealanders without a home, or living in substandard conditions, into warm, dry modern houses."

The Government has been overhauling the assisted housing sector as it aims to increase its role.

It has made the income-related rent subsidy available, which was previously restricted to Housing New Zealand tenants, and has allocated about $175m in capital funding to help the sector build more homes.

Housing Minister Nick Smith has said the Social Housing Fund, which distributed the funding, was meant to be only a seed fund.

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