24 May 2024

Ministers give more detail on new social housing plans

9:45 am on 24 May 2024

Housing Ministers Chris Bishop and Tama Potaka have given more detail on how new social housing places will be contracted.

They made the announcement while visiting Dwell Housing Trust's social housing development in Kilbirnie, Wellington, an example of a community housing provider and a development that would be eligible for funding with the new places.

Bishop on Wednesday announced Budget 2024 would allocate $140 million to fund 1500 new social housing places, provided by Community Housing Providers (CHPs).

It came alongside the decision to scrap the First Home Grant scheme.

"The social housing waitlist is over 25,000 applicants and too many Kiwi families are living in emergency housing motels or sleeping on relatives' couches while they wait to move into warm, dry, stable housing," Potaka said.

The 1500 new homes would be allocated by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development from July 2025 onwards.

Because of the lag time involved in construction, these new homes would be contracted over the next 12-18 months, Bishop said, and it would typically take a further 18 to 24 months before they would be built.

He said social housing was currently procured from CHPs on a project-by-project basis, but about 500 of the new homes would be allocated quickly using the existing pipeline of community housing provider opportunities.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development would communicate revised criteria for the 500 places to providers by the end of next month.

National Party MP Chris Bishop

Housing Minister Chris Bishop Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

He said a "more refined approach" would be used for those first 500, aimed at getting more "bang for buck" and with a focus on providing additional support including in historically under-served areas.

"Critical aim of government is to get people out of those motels," he said.

"No one should have to live in a car, no one should have to live in an emergency housing motel, no one should have to live in a tent ... I wouldn't say that everything we've announced today will fix everything, but we've got a range of things under way."

The other roughly 1000 places - on a slightly longer timeframe - would use an "active purchaser" social investment approach, aiming to develop more strategic, longer-term partnerships with community housing providers, he said.

Active purchasing was about long-term strategic partnerships focusing on the outcomes for people in social housing, Bishop said. People in social housing often faced other problems including addiction, and the government wanted to more often combining the housing contracts with other wraparound supports to help solve those problems.

"Subject to Ministerial agreement, HUD will be looking at developing longer term strategic partnerships with some CHPs to achieve specific social and housing outcomes, rather than looking at single proposals one by one.

"Moving to active purchasing will be considered as part of the broader response to the Kāinga Ora independent review as well as the government's wider review of housing funding programmes."

Potaka said Māori formed a huge part of the social housing, accounting for about 50 to 60 percent of emergency housing being Māori households and 40 percent of Kāinga Ora placements.

"So there's a lot of enthusiasm from Māori, particularly those who are Māori CHPs - community housing providers - to find out how they can link in and engage in the recent announcements.

"The other thing though that I'd mention is a lot of the Māori CHPs actually support Māori, Pākehā and others, and ditto a lot of just the mainstream CHPs support Māori - so places like Dwell and others like emerge - so it's not exclusive, it's actually for New Zealanders."

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