Report highlights housing issues

    Some of the Invercargill's ageing housing stock.

    SOUTHLAND has a serious housing problem, a report into the region’s housing situation reveals.

    Released last week, the Southland Community Housing Strategy report identified Southland’s housing issues around the quantity, quality and type of housing available were urgent.

    Invercargill-based MP Dr Liz Craig said the strategy painted a “chilling picture” of the quality of Southland’s rental housing.

    “It describes condensation, mould and lack of insulation as commonplace and is a stark reminder of why we need minimum rental standards.”

    The Invercargill City Council-led strategy was developed following a community forum in July last year to discuss housing issues in the region.

    The report found the need for emergency housing in Southland regularly exceeded availability, housing was limited for young people aged 16 and 17 unable to live with a parent or guardian and identified a lack of affordable, warm private rental properties.

    The report’s recommendations to address the region’s housing shortfalls include developing a central contact point for emergency housing, providing a supervised residential facility for young people aged 16 to 19 receiving Youth Payments and proposing the Invercargill City Council (ICC) extend its social housing. The report also recommended ongoing advocacy for the retention of Housing New Zealand properties and introducing a healthy homes standard, primarily for rental properties, to ensure they were weather-tight, insulated and warm.

    The ICC delegated responsibility for progressing the strategy to the Southland Community Housing Group (SCHG), which included representatives from the South Alive Housing Group, Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity.

    SCHG member and South Alive Housing Group convener Margaret Cook said it was “all very well” delegating responsibility to SCHG, but the group did not have the money or resources needed to progress all the actions recommended.

    SCHG members could progress the strategies they were already involved in, but the group would only be able to advocate for other actions, she said.

    The Southland Regional Development Strategy (SoRDS) has a goal to attract 10,000 more people to the region by 2025, but Mrs Cook questioned where they were going to live.

    “We will continue to do what we are doing and do our best, but the message to the new entity [being established to progress SoRDS action plan] is – we need to build more houses now, and, judging by Te Anau’s current housing shortage, it is already too late.”

    Invercargill Deputy Mayor Rebecca Amundsen said it was a Southland-wide strategy, so it was not the council’s place to push for change in areas outside its scope.

    “It is a community strategy, so it makes sense for the community to drive it.”

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