Change from state housing to social housing

  • Paula Bennett
  • Nick Smith
Budget 2013 Housing

Budget 2013 makes fundamental changes to the way the Government delivers housing assistance to those most in need, Housing Minister Nick Smith and Social Development Minister Paula Bennett say.

This includes extending income-related rent subsidies to community housing providers and integrating housing assessment with the Government’s wider social support services.

“These reforms will open the door for community housing providers to house thousands more people, with the Government funding this on the same basis as Housing New Zealand,” Dr Smith says. “It marks a significant shift from a policy of state housing to a more diverse social housing sector.”

Under the reforms, funding from income-related rents will be made available to both Housing New Zealand and community housing providers.

“The strength of community housing providers is that they can do a better job of meeting the complex needs of families and individuals that often go beyond just housing,” Dr Smith says.

“New Zealand is out of step internationally with the state dominating social housing provision. There are real social gains from integrating housing provision with services to support people with disabilities, mental health issues, drug and alcohol problems, and family dysfunction.”

Mrs Bennett says an important part of the reform is shifting the assessment of people’s housing needs from Housing New Zealand to the Ministry of Social Development.

“The shift will be fairer and more efficient. It enables a more holistic view to be taken of people’s needs alongside other social and income support.

“It avoids people being pushed from pillar to post, as can occur currently between Housing New Zealand, which assesses for state housing support, and the Ministry of Social Development, which assesses the accommodation supplement. It will also ensure that different social housing providers are treated fairly.”

The Social Housing Reform Bill, to be introduced to Parliament today, provides the legal framework for the changes. Budget 2013 provides $30.8 million over four years to fund the changes.

This is complemented by the Government’s $139.3 million investment through the Social Housing Fund in the community provision of housing, which together with this policy will help the social housing sector grow.

“The next step will be approving new social housing providers, which will be linked to developing a Housing Warrant of Fitness. The transfer of the housing needs assessment is planned for April next year,” Dr Smith says.

“These reforms will enable a more diverse provision of social housing and the growth of the community housing sector.”