Housing New Zealand’s strength lies in the “people” side of our work – whether it’s our many stakeholders, our tenants or our staff. Like any landlord, we need to meet a range of legal obligations and of course we also have a duty to manage properties. However, we’re a social landlord, and as such we have responsibilities over other landlords. We provide homes to some of society’s most vulnerable people, and we have a duty to ensure our tenants have the right foundations from which to live healthy, happy and productive lives.
Every issue, we aim to bring you news and updates about our activities, from across the country. Many of these activities would not be possible without the involvement and partnership of our many stakeholders.
As a crown agency, we are mandated to provide houses to those who are most in need. As a purpose statement, it’s a simple – and on the face of it, straightforward – proposition.
The reality however is more complex. We have 67,000 properties across New Zealand, providing homes for around 193,000 people.
Recently there has been a lot of media attention on the condition of Housing New Zealand’s homes.
We take our responsibility to provide warm, dry homes extremely seriously and continue to invest heavily in upgrades and programmes that support tenant health, safety and well-being. These include insulation, thermal-quality curtains, heating, and the Rheumatic Fever Prevention Programme.
This is proving to be a significant year for Housing New Zealand, particularly as the Government seeks to grow the number of social housing providers through its Social Housing Reform Programme. The intention of the reform is to make it easier for community-based and accredited housing providers to provide social housing services that are localised and tailored to the needs of tenants. This is something we support. Nevertheless, we still expect to remain the largest provider of social housing in this country for the foreseeable future.
In the last month there have been two major announcements relating to the proposed transfer of Housing New Zealand homes to other providers. In late April, Ministers English and Smith announced the transfer of ownership and management of all Housing New Zealand properties in Tamaki to the Tamaki Redevelopment Company. The transfer involves around 2,800 properties and some 8,000 tenants, and is scheduled to take place by 31 March next year.
With repairs now completed on more than 3,000 earthquake-damaged properties in Christchurch, our programme to repair 5,000 properties by the end of 2015 is running ahead of schedule. We also have a goal to build, or have under contract, up to 2,000 new homes by December 2015. Seven hundred of those will be in Christchurch.
There has been a lot of attention given to the changes happening in the social housing sector lately. Housing New Zealand is playing an active role in these changes, while continuing to focus on managing our tenancies and our housing, and on providing a high level of service to our customers.
Changes to New Zealand’s social housing sector, announced in this year’s Budget, were confirmed on 20 November 2013. Parliament passed legislation enabling the transfer of housing assessments and associated functions from Housing New Zealand to the Ministry of Social Development on 14 April 2014.
It’s a big job, and it’s not one that we can do alone. We work closely with many community organisations and individuals who advocate on behalf of people in need. We aim to keep you well informed and regularly seek your support, advice and feedback to ensure we continue to do the best job we can.