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Next steps in social housing reform announced

Tauranga and Invercargill have been selected as the first regions for the proposed transfer of Housing New Zealand Corporation (HNZC) houses to registered Community Housing Providers (CHPs), Ministers Bill English and Paula Bennett say.

“This is another important step to creating a more effective and efficient social housing sector with more housing providers supporting tenants and their needs,” Housing New Zealand Minister Bill English says.

As announced by the Prime Minister in January, the Government’s Social Housing Reform Programme includes plans to transfer 1000 - 2000 HNZC houses to registered CHPs over the next year.

“We’ve gone through a robust process to identify the first areas for potential transactions. Tauranga and Invercargill have been chosen because they have stable demand for social housing, and active community housing providers keen to consider the next steps. Providers in other regions are also interested,” Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says.

“This is a great opportunity for these areas to deliver services locally. We know that vulnerable New Zealanders do better when services are delivered by local people for local people. Community ownership for social housing in Tauranga and Invercargill will make a significant difference.”

No decisions have been made on the number of houses that may be transferred. The next step is to consult with iwi and hapū in the two regions to identify any particular interests under the Treaty of Waitangi, before deciding whether to proceed to market sounding.

“Existing tenants will continue to be housed for the duration of their need and their rights will not be affected if their landlord changes,” says Mr English.

“Houses will not be transferred unless tenants get better services and taxpayers get fair and reasonable value.”

Any transfer of houses will not affect the rent tenants pay or their eligibility for subsidised housing, and properties transferred as social houses will also have to stay as social housing unless the Government agrees otherwise. 

“There are a number of tenants in these regions with long- and medium-term needs, which gives CHPs the opportunity to integrate housing with other services they may provide, like mental health and disability services or budgeting support,” Mrs Bennett says.

“Tenants will continue to be supported to independence, where appropriate, so that social housing remains available for those most in need.”

Registered CHPs can partner with other organisations to acquire and develop social housing.

“In both regions Housing New Zealand owns a significant number of houses so there is potential for more than one organisation to acquire houses for community ownership,” Mr English says.

Since April last year, Government-registered CHPs have been eligible to receive the Income Related Rent Subsidy (IRRS), previously only available for people living in HNZ houses.

Hui with iwi/ hapū will be held later this month and submissions will close on June 12.


The Social Housing Reform Programme (SHRP) is designed to get more people in need into quality social housing - either through Housing New Zealand Corporation (HNZC) or registered Community Housing Providers (CHPs). The objectives of the Social Housing Reform Programme are to:

  • Ensure people who need housing support can get it and receive social services that meet their needs.
  • Ensure social housing is the right design and size and is in the right places for people who need it.
  • Help social housing tenants to independence, as appropriate.
  • Encourage and develop more diverse ownership of social housing, with more innovation and responsiveness to tenants and communities.
  • Increase affordable housing supply.

The SHRP will:

  • Increase Government funding for social housing.  The number of subsidised tenancies available through the Income-Related Rent Subsidy (IRRS) will increase from 62,000 to 65,000 by 2018
  • Include a transfer of houses to registered CHPs who are eligible for the IRRS
  • Enable registered CHPs to provide more social housing in partnership with the Government
  • Over time, integrate housing services better with other support tenants may need, e.g. budgeting, mental health services.

The Government has five bottom lines for the SHRP:

  • HNZC and CHPs will provide more social housing places than currently exist, particularly in Auckland and Christchurch.
  • HNZC will continue to own the most of the country’s social housing properties and will own at least 60,000 by 2017, down from around 68,000 in 2015.
  • Properties will only be sold if this results in better services for tenants and fair and reasonable value for taxpayers.
  • Tenants in properties being sold will be continue to be housed for the duration of their need – and their rights and interests will be protected, whoever owns their house.
  • The Government will spend more on Income Related Rent subsidies and ensure HNZC has enough capital to build new social houses plus develop its existing properties.

Breakdown by region


Tags: social housing