Housing availability 'not improving'

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 12:00 08/02/2014

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The cost and availability of housing in Christchurch is not improving, with boosts in construction only putting the city back where it was before the global financial crisis, a social analyst says.

The Salvation Army's social policy analyst, Alan Johnson, will present the organisation's eighth State of the Nation report at the Christchurch Housing Forum on Wednesday.

Johnson said the report, which would be released on the day of the forum, is a "broad survey of key social indicators" - including housing affordability, debt levels and availability - to determine whether the country was making progress.

"Housing availability in Auckland and Christchurch just doesn't seem to be improving," he said. "Everyone's talking about the Christchurch recovery and how Christchurch employment is really driving the economy, but ... I don't think the number of jobs in Christchurch is much more than it was before the global financial crisis."

The city lost a "hell of a lot of jobs" between 2008 and 2010, and its economy was "just recovering from that".

The jobs on offer had also changed, with fewer hospitality and retail jobs available and more in construction.

While the jump in construction would result in more houses, it was not enough to keep up with demand and population growth, Johnson said.

"The reality is if you go back five years and look at what was happening then, then the extra boost isn't that much."

Wednesday's housing forum will also include an update from the Christchurch City Council on its push to improve the quality of the city's rental properties.

The council is involved in a national warrant of fitness (WoF) trial aims to identify whether properties meet basic quality standards and are safe to live in.

The trial, which began last month, is assessing 25 rental houses against 31 criteria, including whether the toilet works, if the house is free of visible mould and if it has adequate working smoke alarms.

The results of the trial are expected to be published next month.

Council housing committee chairman Glenn Livingstone last month said he would push to get the council's entire social housing stock warranted if the trial was successful. He also wanted to see a city-wide register set up, with private landlords encouraged to get their houses warranted.

The Christchurch Housing Forum is being held at the Oxford Baptist Church Hall on Madras St from 12pm to 2pm on Wednesday, February 12.

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