Accounting for our growth

Column Articles
Monday, June 20, 2016

The growth of our region is welcomed but it does bring challenges, and housing, particularly for those under financial pressure, has been highlighted strongly in the past few weeks.

There are genuine examples of need here in the Bay and the migration from Auckland has exacerbated the challenge. For Tauranga the issue is the availability of lower cost housing and emergency housing.

Housing provision is a complicated issue that shouldn’t be oversimplified and it calls for a comprehensive raft of initiatives. A number of significant initiatives have already been put in place.

Our recent National Policy Statement directs councils to free up land for supply particularly in high growth areas including Tauranga. The introduction of special housing zones, totalling 12 in our region, will help facilitate faster developments.

There are a number of situations where people and families end up without a home and improved access to emergency housing is vital to support our families and communities.

Budget 2016 delivers additional dedicated funding and provides $41.1 million over the next four years for emergency housing. In our region this will fund around 240 emergency housing places for the Bay of Plenty per year for up to three months.

We are putting more resources into helping community providers and other agencies assist those in need into accommodation, whether this is in motels, emergency housing or other accommodation. Also, on July 1, a new non-recoverable special needs grant will become available to people who cannot get into emergency housing. They will be able to use the grant for accommodation without incurring a debt.

The Ministry of Social Development also offers support to three main initiatives in our region, Tauranga Moana Night Shelter Trust, Tauranga District Council Homelessness Steering Group and BayTrust Social Housing concept.

I think our approach is the right one. It combines a number of initiatives that together will make a difference.