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Gisborne’s housing crisis to be tackled in new housing strategy

Solutions needed across entire housing network

A plan has been hatched to fix Gisborne's housing and homelessness crises through an identified need to build 400 new homes.

Tairawhiti-based organisations Manaaki Tairawhiti and Trust Tairawhiti will today present the Gisborne Housing Strategy report at a public deputation to Gisborne District Council.

The housing strategy, including the Gisborne Housing Stocktake, was commissioned by Manaaki Tairawhiti and Trust Tairawhiti late last year to tackle the developing housing crisis here.

“We have the means to stop the housing crisis from getting worse. We want to take co-ordinated action to get whanau (family) and tamariki (children) out of motels and overcrowded living situations and into healthy, affordable homes,” Manaaki Tairawhiti co-chairman Ronald Nepe said in a statement.

Umbrella group Manaaki Tairawhiti, formed in 2015, provides a Tairawhiti-led approach to improving social outcomes to improve the lives of at-risk families. The regional group is comprised of leaders from local iwi and across the social and local government sectors.

The new housing strategy outlines a plan for rapid action combined with longer-term changes and co-ordinated, local and cross-agency action.

The goal is to increase housing supply to eliminate housing stress in the region.

It also proposes examining alternative funding models that would bring forward infrastructure delivery to make more readily developable land available.

In a joint statement today, Manaaki Tairawhiti and Trust Tairawhiti said they wished to target short-run objectives while working on long-term solutions. Six of the 17 short-, medium- and long-term actions and impacts identified in the strategy would be started as soon as possible, as those actions would have the most impact on the housing supply spectrum.

Solutions needed across entire housing network

Gisborne District Council should review its rules around district plan provisions and papakainga developments and reassess development contribution versus rating tools as a means of funding the necessary infrastructure, they said.

Manaaki Tairawhiti will work closely with crown entity Kainga Ora on rapidly increasing the social housing supply in Gisborne.

Solutions needed to be across the whole housing network, the statement said.

A lack of executive houses for rent, for example, could result in increases in emergency housing lists as medium-priced accommodation was snapped up for higher prices because of a market shortage.

Trust Tairawhiti chief executive Gavin Murphy said the process had been important in establishing the facts.

“The housing market is an interconnected system and interventions or constraints in one area place added pressure in other parts of the system. The shortages we face now are clear, however, the region aspires to support sustainable growth.

“I believe this strategy offers a good mix of short-term solutions and strategic thinking for the medium and longer term.”

The long-term aspiration is to have a permissive planning system and smooth infrastructure delivery that makes it economic and efficient to build houses for the people of Gisborne.

The stocktake and strategy prepared by top economists Shamubeel Eaqub and Dr Kirdan Lees, pointed out that the state of the region's development economics “simply does not stack up” because rents were not high enough relative to the cost of building a new house. And the cost of a new house was too high relative to an old house.

Other key issues raised in the stocktake report pointed out that Gisborne region has an acute housing need with a significant shortage of “increasingly unaffordable” housing for buyers and renters.

It also said the region's average house price ($400,000) was now nine times the average income.

That meant it would take an average household nearly two decades to attain a 20 percent deposit by saving 5 percent of household income.

In addition, rents here rose by 9 percent last year compared to 5 percent nationally.

Housing supply was unable to keep up with demand driven by a surge in population growth, meaning pressure on housing was greatest for those with the least financial resources.

“This can lead to overcrowding and homelessness,” the report said.

The housing register, which measures the wait list for social housing, shows Gisborne has the nation's second-highest housing register relative to population (235).

The stocktake identified a shortage of approximately 400 homes in Gisborne. That had resulted in a rapid increase in emergency housing provision, steep increases in social housing waiting lists, an increase in crowding, lack of availability of mid-range rental homes and anecdotal evidence of employers losing potential employees because they could not find suitable housing.

The report said there was potential to leverage Gisborne's well-capitalised local authority and community trust to fund housing infrastructure.

Gisborne was also fortunate that there were a number of well-resourced organisations who would find it relatively easy to leverage “the collective wisdom and financial capability” into a collaborative approach.

Gisborne was also “right-sized” for a central government looking to make a step change in approach to raise wellbeing and living standards for regional communities.

NEED FOR MORE: A strategy has been developed to ease Gisborne's housing crisis. Picture by Liam Clayton

  1. Betty Keelan says:

    My rent just went up and I’m now paying 250pw. I have a small three-bedroom house. I get paid fortnightly so that’s half my wages gone, power is $230, kai $180 and my car repayment $370. That’s it, can’t afford anything else. I’m wanting to buy a house. I have KiwiSaver but not enough. I have 21,000. It will take another 10 years before I have $40,000 – could be dead by then.

    1. wasn't me . . . says:

      That’s cheap, nowadays it’s $250pw for a one bedroom, $500pw for a 3bdrm in Mangapapa

  2. B. Storey, Auckland says:

    The housing shortage in Gisborne and other moderate-sized locations in NZ with greenfield sites close to local fertile land is not difficult – other than the huge cost to developers in holding sites for sometimes years to get consents to develop the land and then build. There are many willing developers if the system can be aligned to be productive, and not destructive, for the people who take the risk.