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- Behind 18 for 4
Homelessness and housing concerns are multi-faceted issues. With more support needed across the board, 18 for 4 will begin to focus on improving housing quality and providing assistance to those struggling with Auckland’s high demand for property.
Thriving communities evolve in places where people want to live – communities that value diversity and bring people together from all walks of life. That idea is one of the key driving forces behind 18 for 4.
How will it work?
The 18 for 4 concept focuses on providing quality mixed-tenure housing for a wide range of people – from various income levels, from across the housing spectrum. The idea is to repurpose tracts of land in existing suburbs and create low-rise complexes that will incorporate units for both rental and ownership. With the mixed-tenure model, there is greater opportunity for people to achieve their housing aspirations within the same community.
ACHPN will work to construct these new homes in neighbourhoods within the new Unitary Plan mixed housing urban zones. Depending on the availability of land, these homes will ideally be placed in areas that are in close proximity to shopping centres, schools and public transport services – allowing these new 18 for 4-enabled residents to integrate into the existing community.
The biggest expense in any housing development is land. The basic costs involved with building a home are much the same in Christchurch as Auckland – but the land itself can be 10 times as expensive. 18 for 4 will face the same challenges – however, the community housing sector has demonstrated its ability to develop affordable, cost effective homes for potential tenants and new home buyers, even in the current tempestuous market.
Low-rise apartment buildings are among the most cost-effective buildings to construct. These types of buildings are generally set up in clusters as part of a community. This will enable 18 for 4 to provide many homes on a small site, optimising use of land. The benefits of this community-centric layout include easier socialisation with your neighbours, not to mention the likelihood of easier access of open space and green areas.
Maximising the land we have
While opportunities may arise to source housing or land from other sources, the starting point for the 18 for 4 concept is to make use existing state homes that are coming up for sale or for replacement. Rather than taking Housing NZ stock and pushing it off into private hands, 18 for 4 ensures the best of both worlds. If four adjoining Housing NZ properties are purchased for 18 for 4 development purposes, the amount of social housing property available will double.
Here’s how it works: within the 18 new units, 8 will be used for social housing. 6 will be used for assisted home ownership via a rent-to-buy model. And 4 will be put up for private sale – but with specific regulations requiring them to be owner-occupied. So everyone will belong, and everyone will be able to take pride in their surroundings and their community.
The homes will be distributed as effectively as possible to those who require assistance in the property space. Rent will vary on the basis of each individual tenant’s income and government income assistance eligibility. To ensure affordability, sales will be at the lower end of the market range for apartment units of similar size for both the private sale and rent-to-buy assisted ownership options.
– ACHPN assisted ownership in practice
Apaula and Martin Lautua are a lot like many couples in Auckland. They have a 6-year-old daughter, Emereziana. They go to church. They both have skilled office jobs, working for a healthcare company. They represent New Zealand’s place in the South Pacific – Apaula is from Wellington, Martin is from Samoa.
And representing a growing number of Aucklanders, they have faced some real challenges in finding a place that really feels like they can call it home.
Married for 5 years, Apaula and Martin have bounced between several homes in their daughter’s short life – while Emereziana herself spent time living over in Samoa. Stability here in Auckland was hard to come by – but it’s where the work and study opportunities are, so the arrangement continued.
In the early days of the marriage, Martin was studying in the city, so the couple lived in a centrally-located small apartment. Once his study was over, they moved out to a house in South Auckland, near Papatoetoe. A house, but not a home. The costs were high, and the property itself less than ideal.
Then they found out about New Zealand Housing Foundation.
Community housing in action
It seems appropriate that they learned about the organisation through their church – after all, it makes sense that community support is discovered through community connections. The family’s first thought was that it must be too good to be true. But both Apaula and Martin are diligent by nature – Martin works on the payroll team at healthAlliance, and Apaula works for the same company as a Senior Internal Auditor – so they did their research and decided to give it a go.
So they applied – and were offered a place in the assisted home ownership programme. New Zealand Housing Foundation helped the Lautua family to establish a way to pay off their debt – taking them into five years of renting their Takanini property, with the ability to buy out the home at the end of that five years. This has enabled them to bring Emereziana back over to New Zealand, keeping the family together.
Support through the process
By working with New Zealand Housing Foundation, the Lautua family can access wraparound services – like the budgeting support that has proved so invaluable. The chance to own their own house in the not-too-distant future would have been impossible without this kind of community housing support. Both Martin and Apaula agree that community housing is an essential part of helping families into better situations – helping provide stability and security.
Having a suitable home of their own also means that they have the chance to share around their good fortune by supporting family members who are facing their own challenges. At present, Martin’s sister is living with the family while she studies, enabling her to concentrate on her tasks at hand, rather than living in constant fear about how far the shoestring student budget can take her.
New Zealand Housing Foundation
The New Zealand Housing Foundation are one of twelve member organisations of the Auckland Community Housing Providers’ Network, alongside the likes of Habitat for Humanity, Lifewise, Monte Cecilia Housing Trust and VisionWest Community Trust. Together, the organisations that make up ACHPN are taking community housing to the next level with 18 for 4.
– Auckland’s housing crisis solution
Wherever we live, we’re all part of a community – so why not take community into account when developing solutions to issues faced by many? Community housing organisations strive to ensure that everyone has a place to call home – whether that’s in an emergency housing situation, through government-enabled social housing, assisted rental housing, or assisted homeownership. Wherever a person or family falls on that continuum, there is a community housing organisation dedicated to helping them find their feet.
In order to make sure all Aucklanders can access affordable housing options, community housing providers have a vital role to play. ACHPN consists of 16 community housing organisations – and together, they manage more than 1500 homes. Funds that these organisations receive are used effectively to both maintain the existing properties (ensuring that everything is kept in good order and stays up to code) and create new housing opportunities.
Next level solutions
18 for 4 is a chance to take community housing to the next level, by integrating different levels of the community housing continuum into one neighbourly complex. Growth in this space is desperately needed – as a growing population will only increase the pressure on emergency and social housing resources.
And community housing is not unique to Auckland. While Auckland does have housing challenges above and beyond other centres in New Zealand, there will always be people struggling to afford a place to live. 18 for 4 may be part of the ACHPN’s framework, but the concept has the potential to transform community housing nationwide.
What’s the difference between state housing and community housing?
State housing provides basic needs – social housing, tenancy management. These are vitally important – but all too often, they aren’t enough. So community housing providers go further, filling the other gaps in the housing process. They provide wrap-around services, ensuring that those under their programme have better outcomes. They are part of the community that they work in, so there is often a deeper local understanding. They help tenants focus on their goals, and provide support to enable them – whether it’s work ambitions, financial plans or family and community outreach.
And importantly, community housing providers leverage Government funding for further housing. For every dollar that the Government provides to a community housing provider, the organisation in question invariably puts in at least another $1–2 of funds it has built up itself. This results in a minimum 100% return on funds – and enables further development to continue into the future. It’s a sustainable, community-focused way to house people.
What is 18 for 4?
It’s a simple idea for a big problem. Sometimes, the easiest way to create understanding is through numbers.
Making housing work for Aucklanders
18 for 4 represents an idea, a way to better use Auckland’s land to enable Aucklanders to keep calling this city home. ACHPN (Auckland Community Housing Providers’ Network) will take clusters of four Housing NZ homes in existing communities and turn them into 18 new homes.
These 18 homes will be available for all kinds of people, from those needing social housing support to those on lower incomes requiring assistance to get on the property ladder to people simply looking for a more affordable purchase opportunity within an existing Auckland community.
The proposed development includes low-rise three to four story apartment buildings, with six apartments per floor. The floor plan will typically consist of a variety of apartment sizes to cater to small and larger families.
The pressure for housing in New Zealand has seen house prices rapidly increase in recent times – making life tougher for New Zealanders, especially those on lower incomes. The Kiwi dream of owning a home is getting farther and farther out of reach for families, forcing some to live in cars or garages. We’ve all seen it in the media – but nobody has posited a real solution – until now.
If we want Auckland to keep its diverse nature and colourful history, we need to make sure that all kinds of people can afford to live here. If teachers are looking for work elsewhere because rents are too high, something’s got to give.
The numbers don’t lie. In recent years, the population of Auckland has increased by over 90,000. That’s comparable to the population of Whanganui and Invercargill combined. New houses are being built – but they aren’t keeping up with demand.
What’s more, current building projects are having to push further and further away from the Auckland CBD and the other pre-Super City hubs of Waitakere, Manukau and the North Shore. So people will potential end up spending hours commuting every day, while still struggling to pay rent or mortgage payments.
The mixed-tenure model
At the heart of the 18 for 4 concept is a mixed-tenure set-up. This is where the numbers come into play again. For each 18-home block or project, eight units will be allocated to replace the existing state homes – effectively doubling the original four homes. Six units will be put aside for low-income families looking for a rent-to-buy option. And four units will be sold privately.
What does this mean? Community. Keeping the spirit of Auckland alive and enabling Aucklanders from all walks of life to have access to quality public services – and to thrive in an environment designed to welcome everyone.
The need for land
There’s nothing that makes the actual physical homes in Auckland any more expensive than those elsewhere in the country – timber is timber, brick is brick – so the real cost when it comes to Auckland housing is the land on which the house sits. Creating low-rise three-to-four-storey apartment buildings is a much more cost-effective way of using high-demand land than the existing state homes.
And the community housing sector has proven an ability to develop fit-for-purpose homes from quality materials. 18 for 4 is our way to take that ability to a new level.
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