Penny Hulse: Housing a critical issue

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Auckland Council's Deputy Mayor has called on the Government to do more to address the critical housing issues of emergency housing, rental accommodation tenure and quality issues.

The Salvation Army's 2015 State of the Nation report found that a lack of safe, affordable housing in Auckland is badly impacting the health and well-being of children and their parents.

"Housing remains the most critical issue Auckland faces and the council has numerous initiatives underway to improve housing supply, affordability and quality," said Penny Hulse.

"The collaborative approach between Government and Local Government to increase housing supply through the Auckland Housing Accord is beginning to show results.

"But much more needs to be done and we'd like the Government to look at issues including amending the Residential Tenancies Act to provide greater security of tenure for renters and also the provision of emergency housing, and quality issues. The community housing sector, along with the council in its role as the second-largest social housing provider in Auckland, also has a critical role to play in providing solutions to these challenges."

Penny Hulse says that the council has never accepted that land supply was the only, or even, the main factor underlying Auckland's housing crisis, which was identified in the 2012 Auckland Plan.

Hulse says that Auckland Council is investigating options to improve the lot of renters in Auckland, looking at issues of rental security as well as minimum standards for rental properties.

In addition, there are targeted programmes to improve the housing options for Maori and Pacific Island people living in the Auckland region.

Alongside increasing the levels of overall supply, the council also has a targeted affordable housing programme.

All the Special Housing Area developments have a requirement to provide between 5 and 10 per cent affordable housing.

This can be through providing houses for sale at less than 75 per cent of the Auckland median house sales price to buyers who meet certain criteria.

Hulse says an alternative is for developers to partner with community housing providers which will purchase the houses and then provide a range of affordable housing options to those in housing need including shared equity, rent to buy and social rental.

- The Aucklander

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