Residential renters in Queenstown and Wānaka are still experiencing significant housing stress in the rental market despite rent prices falling in June, a local survey reveals.
Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust (QLCHT) surveyed more than 500 renters in June as part of its regular market research into the residential rental situation across the district.
This year’s survey was expanded to include questions around wellbeing and the personal impact of COVID-19.
In 2007, the Queenstown Lakes District Council recognised an issue in the lack of affordable housing and acted upon it by forming the QLCHT. The trust was an independent, not for profit, community owned organisation.
Key findings of the 2020 survey were:
· 89 per cent of respondents considered housing affordability a barrier to their long-term commitment to the district.
· 78 per cent of respondents who had rented in other parts of New Zealand considered affordability in the district worse than the rest of the country.
· 25 per cent of respondents were unsatisfied with the warmth and dryness of their housing, with the cost of heating and poor insulation being a key barrier to adequate heating.
· In regards to wellbeing and the personal impact of COVID-19, 79 per cent of respondents experienced some degree of lost income, either through redundancy or reduced hours of work.
· 73 per cent of respondents had a household income under $100,000 per annum.
· 78 per cent of respondents wanted to buy a home in the district.
QLCHT executive officer Julie Scott said the survey results were important findings for the community, adding that the Trust received consistently high demand for housing assistance.
“We have 600 households on our waiting list, and demand has been growing post-COVID-19. Housing costs are the single largest cost item in a household budget for most of our key workers and incomes simply don’t compensate for these higher costs in our district – and this remains the case despite Queenstown rents taking their biggest drop in seven years.”
QLCHT had several programmes in place to help low-moderate income households including public housing, assisted rental, rent-to-buy, and assisted ownership. It had assisted 177 households to date with another 50 expected over the next 12 months.
The Trust had received funding through grants from Housing New Zealand and also through ongoing contributions of land, buildings and/or funds from private local developers who had committed support for community housing as part of the up-zoning process of their land.
In order to be eligible for housing assistance through the QLCHT, a household must meet the following criteria:
· It must have lived in the Queenstown Lakes District for a minimum of six months and have made this its permanent home.
· At least one adult member of the household must have New Zealand residency or New Zealand citizenship.
· At least one member of the family must be working full time.
· The household must not own, or have shares, in any property or land, anywhere in the world.
· It must not own or be a beneficiary of a business or trust that has adequate income and/or assets that enable it to enter into home ownership independently.
· The total household income from all sources cannot exceed income caps (see the QLCHT website for these.)
The online survey was designed and conducted in-house by QLCHT. It followed on from previous research undertaken in 2009, 2012 and 2016. Respondents were predominantly female (74 per cent), New Zealand citizens or permanent residents (80 per cent), NZ European ethnicity (40 per cent), aged 30 to 39 years (40 per cent) and living in Queenstown (82 per cent).
Scott said the research, “helps us better understand what housing hurdles renters are facing and where the greatest need lies in terms of future programmes and the allocation of resources.
“While there is a steady stream of people willing to move into the district, an unusually high percentage of these people leave the district after 12-18 months. The reasons cited are usually due to the high living costs, with the largest of those being the cost of housing,” she said.
The survey report, along with full findings, can be found on QLCHT’s website www.qlcht.org.nz .
View edition 986 of the Wānaka Sun here.