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Hastings council calls for rethink on social housing management


Papakāinga are a good example of inclusive housing development

With emergency housing need almost completely eliminated in Hastings, Hastings District Council is suggesting a rethink of the way social housing is planned and managed, focusing on building communities rather than just houses.

It comes on the back of the success of the Hastings Place-based Housing Plan, which has almost eliminated emergency housing in Hastings and seen hundreds of homes built across the district by the partner organisations in the four years since it was put together.

A new way of thinking has the potential to fulfil the one aim in the place-based plan that has been difficult to achieve; building strong, connected communities to uplift people and strengthen neighbourhoods, by having mixed residency options within a development – rental, rent-to-buy, affordable first homes, social housing ­- and types and density – single, double storey, duplex designs.

It would be an alternative to traditional social housing, which was often developed in large tranches that risked stigmatising areas, and the residents within them.

From the outset, Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst has been adamant that new developments need to be inclusive and mixed – and encourage home ownership.

“We have seen over these past few years the success home ownership brings for families that may not have had the option without alternative pathways.

“By offering different options, we want to build communities and neighbourhoods with diverse populations covering ages, incomes and ethnicities. We must deliberately and thoughtfully address neighbourhood building, so we avoid doing what has been done in the past – segmenting people into housing developments that over time stigmatises the people who live there.

It is particularly relevant to government-supplied social housing.

“If we look at other examples – papakāinga or trust models – they have families living next to elders, people renting in one house, neighbouring someone on a plan to buy their home.

It seems that traditionally, for all kinds of reasons, it has been easier to have social housing all built in one area, off one plan, but it is a very dated way of community building and does not look ahead to how the area will develop over the next 40-50 years.”

Hastings District Council is mooting that, with the immediate aim of getting people out of emergency housing all but achieved, it is time for a different way of thinking that will achieve the ‘diverse community aim’ in the plan.

“Between the Crown, Council and Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga, we have the land and, after four years of delivering the place-based plan, we have the experience. In the end, what we want is the very best outcome for all of our residents,” Mrs Hazlehurst said.

Council is suggesting that social housing funding, available across the Crown, Council and taiwhenua, be integrated, and the planning and development be undertaken within the region to align with the place-based philosophy of the housing plan.

A report to Council this Thursday says: “We want to investigate moving funding and decision rights to Hastings, through a performance and outcome-based funding model.”

In its four years, the Hastings District Council-led cross-organisation plan has achieved incredible results, most notably the number of people in emergency housing plummeting from 450 in 2019 to 66 at the end of 2023.

More than 400 (414) homes have been built, another 208 are under construction, and 509 are going through the consenting process. Importantly, of the homes built, more than 350 are social housing, affordable rentals, affordable first homes or papakāinga.

That is just a snapshot.

“There has been a huge amount of work done by Council and our partners – iwi, government, non-government and health organisations - to get to where we are today,” said Mrs Hazlehurst.

Other elements include plan changes to allow for Recognised Seasonal Employer staff (1500 beds so far and counting) and to enable inner city living and greater housing density, the planning and construction of the infrastructure needed to service new housing areas, and essential repairs made to 40 existing homes whose residents include at-risk tamariki.

The plan has won awards, consistently attracted local and national media attention, and inspired other councils and housing organisations to visit Hastings to get a first-hand look at how it has worked.

7 February 2024

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