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Will a solid foundation for housing be laid in the Wellbeing Budget 2019?

chris-glaudelChris Glaudel

Deputy Director | Community Housing Aotearoa

The first Wellbeing Budget will be released this Thursday, 30 May.  Expectations are high across many sectors for new or increased levels of funding.  Community housing is no exception.  A warm, safe and dry affordable home is the foundation for wellbeing. This came through clearly in the Mental Health Inquiry and the Welfare Expert Advisory Group reports.

Last week, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development released the Public Housing Quarterly Report for 31 March 2019. The report showed Community Housing Providers delivered 60% (928 of 1,546 total) of the new public housing tenancies for the year ended 31 March 2019.  Since gaining access to Income Related Rent supported tenancies 5 years ago, CHPs have gone from zero to 6,172 tenancies representing 9% of total supply.

In responding to homelessness, community organisations are also delivering in greater numbers.  The Housing First programme placed 199 new households in just the last quarter, bringing their total currently housed to 720.  Community organisations are also supporting another 2,697 households in Transitional Housing.  With an average stay of around 13 weeks, more than 10,000 households are seeking Transitional Housing annually.  The community organisations assisting these households see everyday the tragic impacts of our failing housing system.

The Social Housing Register grew to 11,067 households; a 40% increase for the year and a 300% rise since 2016.  HUD reported nearly $70 million was spent on the Temporary Additional Support and Emergency Housing Special Needs Grants for the quarter.  These figures show significant investment into permanently affordable supply is needed. Continuing to spend hundreds of millions annually on crisis response without investing in the affordable homes needed to avert the crisis is not a Wellbeing approach.

Community housing providers are willing and able to bring resources to match government investment.  For example, in 2011 the Social Housing Fund committed $139m of capital grants to 33 community housing providers around New Zealand. The Government’s investment was at least matched by community housing providers’ contributions, to a total value of $313m, which resulted in 890 new affordable homes.

Next week community housing providers will gather in Wellington for The Shift Aotearoa Conference 2019.  Sparked by the latest research from Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities Ko Ngā wā Kāinga hei Whakamāhorahora National Science Challenge and international researchers, and case studies from community housing practitioners in Aotearoa New Zealand, the conference will seek to develop a platform for cross-sector action. We eagerly await announcements in the Wellbeing Budget 2019 to signal the shift from crisis response to prevention.

 

This blog has been contributed by a member of the ComVoices network. The views presented here are not necessarily those of ComVoices.

ComVoices is a Wellington based network of national community and voluntary sector organisations. It was established so that sector organisations would have a more powerful voice at Government level and in the community.

Click here for our websitehttp://comvoices.org.nz/