Residents group rejects claim Council being asked to subsidise housing

A spokesperson for Kaiti Residents Association Ka Pai Kaiti, is rejecting claims by Councillors that the Gisborne District Council are being asked to subsidise housing costs for low income families.

Manu Caddie has pointed out that the proposal he put to the Community Development Committee last month specifically said that no new money needed to be spent by Council on the issue.

“We had three simple suggestions – the first was that accurate information on housing in the region be monitored by the Council; second, that an Affordable Housing Strategy be developed; and third, that an advisory group be established to provide input to Council and other organisations like Housing New Zealand on local housing issues.”

“All of these activities can be done within existing staffing and are squarely within the responsibilities of Council as defined by the Local Government Act” said Mr Caddie. “A number of Councillors view the GDC public housing portfolio like an albatross around their neck and these recommendations would actually provide some clarity in terms of the role of Council in relation to housing. Some decent deliberation on the issue might provide opportunities for alternative arrangements including a local housing cooperative or housing trust that could own and manage social housing instead of GDC or Housing NZ. Some estimates suggest this could realise up to $10 million in addition to ongoing savings if Council was no longer a direct provider of social housing.”

Mr Caddie believes it is a waste of time waiting for central government to come up with a solution for affordable housing.

“The skills, resources and commitment exist within our region to develop housing options that fit our people – what we need is political support, particularly from local authorities to coordinate a regional approach.”

Mr Caddie said he spoke briefly to Phil Heatley, Minister of Housing, last week about local housing issues. “The Minister seemed genuinely interested in supporting communities who know their needs, identify sustainable solutions and are clear about the respective roles that both central government and local authorities can play in facilitating positive change.”

Last week Housing New Zealand started advertising a number of local properties for sale and Ka Pai Kaiti are afraid the houses will be snapped up by absentee landlords.

“I hope these properties are purchased by people who will actually live in them and contribute to making our neighbourhoods places we can take pride in” said Mr Caddie. “If we had a regional housing strategy in place, residents may have been better prepared by putting structures in place to take advantage of the opportunity for the public good rather than just private gain.”

Mr Caddie also took issue with claims that the issue of affordability had yet to be clearly defined and referred to a 2004 report by the Centre for Housing Research Aotearoa New Zealand entitled ‘Housing Costs and Affordability’ that provides a comprehensive discussion on ways to assess housing affordability and a clear definition from the New Zealand Housing Strategy Affordability Report published in 2003.

“We agree with Councillor Cranston that lifestyle priorities and financial management skills can have a big impact on whether housing costs are met – Ka Pai Kaiti has supported a range of projects in these areas over the past ten years. But we also know that hundreds of families in our community are not wasting money and are still struggling to keep the roof over their head, food on the table, clothes on the kids and turn up to work every day.”

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