Social housing review to start later this year

20 October 2014

A five-yearly review of its social housing policy is to be started later this year by Wellington City Council.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the City Council is a major provider in the affordable rental housing sector in Wellington and that the Council is keeping to its commitment to review its Social Housing Policy every five years.

“Our Council is fully aware of the importance of providing housing to people on low incomes and to some of the more vulnerable members of our community – we’re in this sector for the long haul.”

“The Council’s social housing is one essential component of our commitment to end homelessness by 2020. We’ll also be encouraging a range of new-builds and other partnerships.”

The housing environment, community demands and Government policies have changed and so the time is right to look at how the Council is running its housing portfolio.

“I want to make it clear, though – and especially to tenants - that we are not proposing any radical shakeup. The Council is in social housing for a good reason – it is essential for the good of the city that vulnerable people, or people on low incomes, can live in the city and contribute rather than be pushed to the fringes.”

The Council’s Community, Sport and Recreation Committee Chair, Councillor Paul Eagle, says the review reinforces the Council’s broader interest in ensuring there is good quality social housing in Wellington; and takes into account the Government's social housing policy while protecting the interests of existing tenants.
"We'll take a close look at everything including the 70% market rate rental price, but will be mindful that we’re housing Wellington’s most vulnerable people on very tight budgets.”
The Council is halfway through a $400 million upgrade of its housing stock, funded by the Government and Council social housing rents. “We want to build on our partnership with the Government and explore other opportunities,” Cr Eagle says.
He says ‘income-related’ rents apply to State-owned housing but not council housing, though it will become available to community housing providers known as the ‘third sector’.
“We may want to look at partnerships with other organisations, which could give Council tenants access to income-related rents.”

He says he and Mayor Wade-Brown hope to meet with new Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett soon to discuss the Government’s priorities and the Council review.

The Community, Sport and Recreation Committee meets this Thursday 23 October, and will publish a discussion paper for consultation with Council tenants and the wider community before the end of the year.
Cr Eagle says he expects consultation will be open until February 2015.  Recommendations on any changes to the policy would be made by Council toward the middle of 2015.

Wellington City Council social housing – facts and figures
• 2300 houses and units – 40 large sites around the city, 12 smaller sites and 126 standalone houses
• 3574 residents housed (2724 adults and 850 children)
• 353 residents are aged 65 or older.