21 Feb 2024

Te Anau housing shortage hurting businesses, limiting economic growth - survey

12:25 pm on 21 February 2024
Te Anau.

Te Anau. Photo: pxhere

Fiordland businesses are calling for urgent action to address a critical housing shortage they say is limiting the region's economy.

A Fiordland Business Association survey showed more than half the 71 respondents reported being understaffed by one to five people due to the scarcity of housing in Te Anau.

More than half of participants reported having difficulties recruiting and retaining staff.

Chair Nathan Benfell said the impacts included limiting new investment and services, overworking staff and people moving away.

"The results of this survey clearly highlight the severity of the housing shortage in our community. It is impacting businesses, hindering employment opportunities, and ultimately limiting the growth of the region," he said.

"We now have a responsibility to drive collaboration on strategic and practical initiatives, fast."

Fiordland, Te Anau, Otago

Te Anau has a shortage of affordable housing. Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Many respondents were concerned with unregulated short-term rentals, saying proper regulation could help to encourage longer-term rentals.

Employers wanted to invest in worker accommodation but many could not afford to, and they wanted the government to consider offering support to help make it happen, Benfell said.

Those solutions could include businesses buying and renovating properties for work accommodation, creating dedicated worker housing and exploring alternatives - tiny homes or trailer parks.

"It is imperative that we address this housing crisis head on. Locals will tell you this problem isn't new, and it also isn't going away."

The association had been looking at what councils were doing for temporary accommodation and speaking with people interested in getting involved.

"We're researching modular, prefab and tiny housing options," Benfell said. "But we'd still love to get more solution focused individuals and organisations around the table."

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