New rules for a fairer social housing system

  • Phil Heatley
Housing

Changes to the way Housing New Zealand delivers state housing will make the system fairer for everyone, says Housing Minister Phil Heatley.

From 1 July, Housing New Zealand will start using an improved system to decide who gets a state house. The new system will mean that only those in the greatest need (A and B priority applicants) will be eligible for state housing, and will be placed on Housing New Zealand’s waiting list.

Those with lower housing needs (C & D priority applicants) will no longer be eligible for a state house, and instead will be helped in to other types of housing through Housing New Zealand’s Options and Advice Service.

“All applicants (A’s, B’s, C’s and D’s) will continue to be recorded on a Housing Needs Register so that we maintain a clear picture of wider housing need” says Mr Heatley.

“But whereas once C and D tenants would languish on the waiting list with no real prospect of getting a state home, they will now be given assistance to find a home outside state housing, and we think this is a positive,” he said.

“Housing those not eligible for state housing means working very closely with third sector providers of niche, social and affordable housing to significantly grow the volume of social housing available.

“We want to ensure that tenants with the greatest need have timely access to a state home for the duration of their need,” says Mr Heatley.

HNZC will be introducing reviewable tenancies for all new tenants from 1 July.

“A tenant’s circumstances will be reviewed once every three years to ensure their housing needs are being properly catered for. When their circumstances improve significantly and they are able to afford a home outside state housing they will be assisted to move – freeing up a state house for someone in greater need,” Mr Heatley said.

“Elderly tenants and those with significant disabilities will be subject to a desk top review only as their circumstances are unlikely to have changed, and we don’t want to worry them unnecessarily,” he said.

Other changes that HNZ are making include:-

• A suspension period to prevent tenants who are issued a ninety day notice, for abusing their state home or for ongoing anti-social behaviour that affects communities, from reapplying for a state house for up to a year; and

• Stronger measures to detect and prevent fraud.



“The Government wants the state housing system to be fairer, more focussed and more efficient,” Mr Heatley said.

“These changes are fairer to people in greatest need, more transparent to C and D applicants and give a clear signal to the other social housing providers that we need them,” says Mr Heatley.

“A state home and the Income Related Rent that goes with it amounts to a considerable taxpayer subsidy for a household.  We want to make sure this benefit goes to those in the greatest need, for the duration of that need,” he said.