Affordable housing becomes more attainable

Northlake's KiwiBuild have failed to fly.

A reform to the KiwiBuild scheme could translate to positive news for the Wānaka community after the Government revamped the affordable housing policy last week.

The flagship KiwiBuild, which launched last year and aimed to build 100,000 homes in ten years in an effort to tackle the NZ housing crisis, has been 'reset,' with Wānaka being cited as part of the problem. The Government noted that KiwiBuild homes built in the Northlake development proved to have little demand from first-time home buyers after sporting a reported price tag of around $645,000.

Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust (QLCHT), executive officer Julie Scott said, "They're a little bit overpriced for what they are in terms of their value compared to what's available on the open market." Noting genuine first-time buyers in the area, she said, "There are teachers, nurses, police, tradespeople, bar staff, retail management—everyone who's on pretty much less than $100,000 household income."

In 2007, Queenstown Lakes District Council initiated the creation of the independent, not-for-profit QLCHT to manage and deliver affordable housing solutions to those in the local community who cannot afford it. In accordance to the visions and goals of the Mayoral Housing Affordability Taskforce for housing in the community, Council confirmed the Trust, an independent entity, as its preferred partner for receiving contributions by Council to help in the Trust's delivery of retained affordable housing in the district. Under QLCHT’s Secure Home programme, new homes have been successfully placed since its launch last March and more are reportedly in the works.

Scott said the Government's recent reset of its affordable housing policy is 'fantastic news' for the hundreds of people on the Secure Home waiting list. "If we can receive financial assistance from the Government, we can help even more than currently anticipated and speed up the process," she said.

The Government's new measures include big changes, such as a $400m progressive home ownership scheme for up to 4000 families and increased support for first-time home buyers.

"With previous Government assistance for progressive home ownership, we helped more than 100 households into their own homes over a 10-year period," said Scott. 

The reset will also make changes to the Welcome Home Loan and HomeStart grant, which allow buyers to get Government-guaranteed loans and $10,000 grants for deposit—the deposit required from first-time home buyers has been reduced from 10 percent down to five percent. "The challenge of saving for a 10 percent deposit in our district is seriously challenging when rents are the highest in the country relative to income," said Scott.

The Government has also removed the ban of having multiple parties purchase the homes and reduced the time one has to live in the property from around three years down to one year (for one-bedrooms and studios).

In regards to KiwiBuild, there is no announced new target. Housing Minister Megan Woods said the Government would instead focus on building as many homes as it could. 

It is unclear if the amended terms will make Northlake’s KiwiBuild homes a viable option, but Scott said it could be a possibility. "I think there is an opportunity for the stars to align and for that to happen, yeah absolutely." 


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