State houses to go on sale in Tauranga & Invercargill

Wednesday 6 May 2015

Ministers announced today that state houses in Tauranga and Invercargill will be going on sale as part of the government’s social housing reform programme.

By Miriam Bell

The state houses will only be available for sale to registered Community Housing Providers (CHPs).

However, Housing NZ Minister Bill English said that registered CHPs can partner with other organisations to acquire and develop social housing.

“In both Tauranga and Invercargill, Housing New Zealand owns a significant number of houses so there is potential for more than one organisation to acquire houses for community ownership.”

This means there could be scope for private investors to get involved in the provision of social housing – either by becoming a registered CHP or by partnering with a registered CHP.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett said Tauranga and Invercargill were chosen because “they have stable demand for social housing and active CHPs keen to consider the next steps”.

Registered CHPs in the Tauranga area currently include two iwi organisations – Nga Potiki a Tamapahore Trust and Managtawa-Papamoa Blocks Inc – and the Tauranga Community Housing Trust.

Habitat for Humanity and Accessible Properties, which are both nationwide organisations, are also active in the area.

In Invercargill, Habitat for Humanity and a number of Canterbury-wide CHPs provide social housing.

While Prime Minister John Key has previously said the government plans to sell 1000 to 2000 state houses over the next year, the ministers said no decisions have been made on how many state houses might be sold in Tauranga and Invercargill.

Consultation with local iwi and hapū, to identify any particular interests under the Treaty of Waitangi, will take place before a final decision on whether the sale will proceed is made.

English also said any properties sold as social houses will have to stay as social housing unless the government agrees otherwise.

He added that any sale of state houses will not affect the rent tenants pay or their eligibility for subsidised housing.

Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford said the first trache of the government’s state house sell-off will do nothing to fix the housing crisis or better the lives of vulnerable families.

“Changing the ownership of these homes won’t provide the extra houses or improve the quality of cold, damp rental properties which are making our kids sick.”

He said that Bill English was desperate to off load the state houses to anyone that will take them.

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