Housing New Zealand is pressing on with plans to intensify its stock of properties in Auckland by subdividing sections and making land available for other providers of affordable or social housing to provide properties on.
The state owned house owner, which has about 70,000 properties throughout New Zealand, says it's currently looking to reconfigure its portfolio to better meet tenant demand.
Of its 70,000 properties, Housing NZ has earmarked about 27,000 which it will either sell, because they are in areas of surplus need, or reconfigure, because they are the wrong size. While selling some houses, it is also looking to build more homes in areas of greater need, such as in Auckland, where it plans to add a net 1,400 homes to its portfolio in the city over the next three to five years to bring the total number of state houses in Auckland to 32,000.
Housing NZ is also looking at providing some of its land to other providers of social and affordable housing, as it tries to reduce the concentration of state housing in some areas and allow third party providers to take some of the load.
'Concentration & balance'
Appearing before Parliament's Social Services Select Committee today, chairman Alan Jackson said the expectations of the social housing sector were evolving as providers looked at what future demand might be, and what role Housing New Zealand should play in the sector.
The issue of the concentration and balance of who provided social housing needed to be addressed.
One area where Housing New Zealand will address the concentration of properties it owns is in Glen Innes, where it currently owns 156 properties. A major redevelopment there will see the redevelopment of those properties to create 260 new homes, including 78 to be owned by Housing New Zealand. At least 39 houses would be owned by other social or community housing providers, while the remainder would be sold off privately.
Housing NZ CEO Lesley McTurk told the Select Committee that Housing NZ was looking at how it could be innovative with the properties it owned.
"How can this land be used more effectively, how can greater density or intensification be built on it with a good design?" McTurk said.
“We’re reducing the concentration of state housing in that particular area, down from 156 houses to 78 houses. The other houses, some of them will be on the private market, but some of them will be affordable, and some will be allocated to social housing providers," she said.
"So we’re going to end up with a more mixed tenure in that community, and while there was a reduction of state houses in that particular smallish zone, there are going to be an extra 1,400 houses in the wider Auckland area over the next few years."
Houses were often on very large sections, which some tenants had difficulties maintaining as they aged.
“People now don’t have the quarter acre section. With the land values in Auckland, we can house more people in need, we can provide opportunities for other affordable housing and social housing providers to come in and stand alongside Housing New Zealand," McTurk said.
"That would give greater opportunity for Housing New Zealand tenants, as they no longer needed a state house, to move into more independence from the state but stay within the same area and community with which they had bonded with,” she said.
Housing Minister Phil Heatley last year outlined the government's plans for the increase and upgrade of state housing in Auckland.
“A number of HNZ properties in Auckland are currently situated on large valuable sections. The value of the sections outstrips the value of the houses which are often old, or of the wrong size to meet current need, which is increasingly for one or two-bedroom or four or more bedroom houses. This is an absurdity at a time when we need more state homes here and when young working families in Auckland are screaming out for the land necessary to build or buy their first home,” Heatley said in September.
“HNZ will look to decrease the concentration of state housing in some areas by increasing the amount of social, affordable and private housing, when rebuilding on subdivided sections,” he said.