KiwiBuy could provide security to low-income families

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) says that a broad sweep of new housing programmes is required to reduce the reliance on an increasingly unaffordable and unreliable private rental market.

The Salvation Army’s new report, Beyond Renting says that changes in the private rental market mean that private rental housing is no longer a reliable housing option for those families and households not wealthy enough to move into home-ownership and not “poor enough” to qualify for state housing. The report makes sound suggestions for Government to consider as a way forward, including a shared equity “KiwiBuy” scheme which would take the form of a government-subsidised home ownership programme designed to help modest households get into their own homes.

“The Government needs to be more hands-on in its approach to housing,” says Frank Hogan, CPAG’s Housing spokesperson.

“As the report states, private sector tenants are among those who are experiencing the worst poverty in our country, and most likely it is the children who fare worst when families have no choice but to take substandard housing that is within their budget.

“Even with new initiatives to get people into purchasing their first homes, there are still gaps, for instance for very low-income families who are not eligible for state housing, but cannot afford to save for a deposit for their own home, or to service high mortgage repayments in the current market.”

CPAG says that the Salvation Army’s focus on a “KiwiBuy” scheme is an effective approach to ensuring that more people have access to stable and secure housing.

“Rising rents and substandard rental properties are major causes of family poverty in New Zealand and a greater level of state intervention is needed to address these problems,” says Hogan.

“Without it we will see increasing levels of housing-related poverty and homelessness among families and children.”

CPAG says that alongside new initiatives for providing housing security among modest earners (including reform of the Residential Tenancies Act), Government must fast-track its efforts to increase the supply of state housing. As at the end of June 2018 the waiting list for social housing reached a total of 8,704 (households) with 6,435 of those on the “Priority A” list - being those considered to have “severe and persistent need that must be addressed immediately”- three times the number at the end of 2015.

  Photo credit: andym5855