Rural Housing Package

  • Murray McCully
Housing Corporation of New Zealand

The National minority Government announced details of a major housing package designed to address the housing problems faced by those living in remote parts of New Zealand.

The package was announced in Whangarei today by Prime Minister Jenny Shipley and Minister responsible for Housing Corporation Murray McCully, with endorsement from Maori Affairs Minister Tau Henare.

The housing package includes enhancements to the Low Deposit Rural Landing Programme, the introduction of Group Self Build Housing, and developing HCNZ/iwi partnerships.

Adding to the urban housing response announced yesterday, today's package is designed to overcome the problem of sub-standard dwellings in rural New Zealand, especially those affecting at-risk Maori families.

Mr McCully said the initiative builds on the success of the Low Deposit Rural Lending Programme and it expands it from Northland and the East Coast into the eastern Bay of Plenty and Wairoa where similar housing needs have been identified.

"We have decided to make some significant enhancements to the programme and extend it to other areas where there are serious housing needs. We expect the programme to make a real difference for people who want to help themselves."

"There are too many New Zealanders living in substandard housing in rural areas. This Government is committed to addressing these issues in a way that delivers real positive results. For these communities, a long awaited solution will now be implemented," Mr McCully said.

In addition to the extension of the Programme, the following initiatives will be implemented immediately:

A reduction from 5% to 3% in the cash deposit required for a HCNZ loan
A mortgage interest rate of no greater than 7.95% fixed for seven years
Recognition of "sweat equity" in the scheme
Involvement of local trusts and iwi in areas of the scheme to provide the delivery of housing services with focus on rental housing
Use of surplus vacant HNZ houses as part of the scheme
Funding provided to put together three-year plans to deal with specific housing issues in the regions
Mr McCully said the seven-year fixed interest rate of no more than 7.95% is a huge boost to home ownership opportunities in areas in most serious need.

The Government has also responded to the call for innovative solutions which will encourage greater community involvement in addressing housing problems with programmes such as the new Group Self-Build Housing programme.

The Group Self-Build Housing programme will help groups of families to build their own houses under supervision and is a first for New Zealand.

"To make sure this programme works, the Government has agreed to provide funding for operational support and management costs to supervising groups, to be made available through Te Puni Kokiri (the Ministry of Maori Development). On top of this, Housing Corporation finance will also be available."

Mr Henare said thirty new houses are expected to be built overthe remainder of this financial year under this programme and a furthertwo hundred houses in the next two years.

"This programme will not only improve housing for Maori families, it will foster community development and pass on new and important skills.We are also exploring opportunities for iwi organisations to become engaged in delivering housing services to those most at-risk Maori rural families," said Mr Henare.

To help achieve this, funding is to be made available to iwi/Maori groups to deal with specific housing issues in the regions. Te Puni Kokiri will be working with iwi/Maori and the Housing Corporation to facilitate local solutions. It is hoped that this will pave the way for local trustsand iwi to begin to take a much greater role in delivering housing services and perhaps rental housing. Surplus vacant HNZ houses may be part ofthe solution.

"The existing HCNZ/iwi partnerships should now be able to be developed to see rental housing agency and mortgage management roles develop. There is little doubt in my mind that these provide the only basis for long term solutions to rural Maori housing problems," Mr McCully said.