Community housing providers raring to work with Government

community housing

Community housing providers are ready and waiting to work with the Government says Monte Cecilia Housing Trust’s former CEO Bernie Smith.

Smith was talking on Tuesday with NewsTalkZB’s Mike Hosking.

Locked out

Smith told Hosking that community housing providers had previously been prevented from buying houses from developers. Instead, Kainga Ora sought out the developers and purchased their houses for the Government.

Smith said that, time and time again, first home owners were locked out of the market because Kainga Ora came along with a big chequebook.

He says Kainga Ora were servants of the Government.

Pointing the finger at the former Housing Minister, Smith said she needs to take blame [for] 80 percent of what has occurred.

Smith told Hosking that he thought the new Government is onto a good thing

A review of Kainga Ora by Sir Bill English found that, rather than collaborating with the community housing sector, the previous Government wanted to work alone.

Smith thinks that was part of the issue.

Elaborating, he said it was also because community housing providers live and work in their communities and know their communities while the Government does not.

Easy choice

“Offering affordable housing to Kiwis is vital if the country is to progress” says Mike Fox, director of Lower Hutt company EasyBuild.

Speaking with CathNews, Fox said he is looking forward to having community housing providers such as Monte Cecilia build good quality community housing for people in need.

“Offering affordable housing to Kiwis is vital for the progression of our country” he said.

Fox has been in the affordable housing business for many years and has witnessed the approaches of successive governments to community housing.

He agrees with Bernie Smith’s critique about keeping its housing solutions ‘in-house’.

Fox told CathNews that the approach “was to the detriment of New Zealand’s social housing stock and stifled innovation in this space.

“Community Housing Providers are the ones on the ground, working effectively and efficiently with residents and understanding what works in their own communities” says Fox.

Positive change coming

Smith thinks the state housing sector can be managed differently.

Acknowledging that the queue for state housing is chronic, Smith suggested bigger is not always better.

“You’ve got to move away from a model where housing managers have got too many properties to manage” he said.

This isn’t the case with community housing providers where the managers actually get to know their tenants, he added.

“They are therefore switched on to where there might be a problem, because they know the tenants rather than the other way around, where they’re only getting visited when there are issues.”

Seeing change coming, Smith told Hosking he predicts “seeds of positivity” will likely show within the next 12 months.


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News category: New Zealand.

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