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Housing sector poised for growth

The Government has agreed in principle to establish a new entity that will work with social housing providers to meet demand.

Our plan is to grow and diversify the social housing sector in New Zealand.

We recognise that most options to do this will have significant implications, and hence it is important that we fully understand them to get the right options progressed.

This dedicated entity will help develop the fair, effective and efficient social housing market the Government wants and tenants need.

The case for the new entity will be developed over the next six months by an establishment unit staffed by officials from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Treasury working with Housing New Zealand.

Funding for the establishment unit was provided in Budget 2014.

Three major steps

This is the next step forward in our programme of growing the social housing sector. The first step was in seeding new providers with the $141 million Social Housing Fund.

The second step was in transferring needs assessment to the Ministry of Social Development and enabling community housing providers access to the income-related rent subsidy.

This latest step is to facilitate transfers of Housing New Zealand homes to community housing providers.

It makes sense for community housing providers to have a growing role in meeting the diverse and complex needs of social housing tenants.

They are able provide wraparound social services alongside housing support, they have a better record than the state in consistently managing the quality of housing, and we believe they can achieve better value for money across more houses.

The community housing sector has requested this next step in its report (‘A Way Forward for Stock Transfers’), released on April 16.

There will be ongoing consultation with the sector on the establishment of the new entity.

Dr Nick Smith is Housing Minister and Building & Construction Minister of New Zealand

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