Ardern opens social housing development

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, centre, toured the Salvation Army’s Kaitiakitanga housing development in Flat Bush on June 3. Times photo Wayne Martin

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has officially opened a new social housing development built in east Auckland by Christian charity the Salvation Army.

Ardern and Housing Minister Megan Woods visited the $18.6 million Chapel Road development, named Kaitiakitanga, on Thursday June 3.

The complex includes 46 units, 36 of which are two-bedroom and 10 one-bedroom.

It’s name is taken from the te reo Maori word kaitiaki (guardian).

More than 100 people turned out to mark the development’s opening.

Among those joining Ardern and Woods were mayor Phil Goff, Botany MP Christopher Luxon, Botany-based Labour list MP Naisi Chen and several Howick Local Board members.

Ardern told the audience she wants every child and family “to have what I had – the simple act of stable, warm, and affordable housing”.

“We have a big job to do in New Zealand. This crisis has been decades in the making.

“There is no point standing here casting aspersions or blame. Instead we need to look forward and focus on what we do next.”

She outlined her Government’s changes to the housing sector, including extending the bright-line test, removing interest deductibility, banning letting fees and stopping rent increases more than once every 12 months.

“We’re building houses as fast as we can – 18,000 public houses we are working hard to build. We’ve already built 7000.

“I’m so pleased to be here on this particularly auspicious occasion to see families today moving in, in the near future, to such fabulous houses and ultimately making them homes.”

Goff said housing is the “bedrock of so many other things our lives depend on”.

He said the children of parents who have to move houses because they don’t have secure accommodation never get a good start in life and education.

“If you’ve got a family growing up in a damp and unhealthy home, that is going to affect their schooling and their work.

“Housing really is the bedrock of what we have to provide.”

Goff said when he arrived at the development he immediately thought they were homes people are going to be proud to live in.

Salvation Army territorial commander, commissioner Mark Campbell, said the key message is not about housing, or people, “it’s about breaking the cycle of homelessness in New Zealand”.

“Whether you’re in Government, or finance, or if you’re a supporter or a donor, or our first nation people (Maori), we are all part of breaking the cycle of homelessness today.

“We celebrate that today.”

Woods says the development was delivered in partnership with the Government.

While much of the operating funding was provided by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, the project got off to a quick start with initial funding from the Salvation Army and an impact investment through the charity’s community bond, she says.

“We’re seeking to address decades of under-funding of new housing stock and our public housing programme plays a key part in enabling more housing to be built.

“We’re under no illusions about the size of the challenge, and the best way to address the growing demand is to bring on more quality housing at pace.”

The Army says each home in the development is energy efficient, has family-centred design and is part of a complex that incorporates community facilities, chaplaincy support where needed and tenancy management.

Residents will receive ongoing support designed to strengthen relationships and encourage close connections.