Projections show that more New Zealanders will begin to reach retirement age without  owning their own home. This, combined with the growing number of people on a benefit, is putting pressure on already limited stock of state housing.

A new report, Taking Stock; The Demand for Social Housing in New Zealand, was released today by the Salvation Army, giving a sobering overview of the actual levels of new homes needed to provide for low income New Zealanders now and in the future.

The Salvation Army’s call for between 2000 and 2500 more state and social houses per year is strongly supported by the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS).

Access to affordable, quality homes which provide long-term, stable tenancies is needed for many New Zealanders, says Trevor McGlinchey, NZCCSS Executive Officer.

“Our members support the call for more State and social housing to be made available, particularly in those areas with most demand,” said McGlinchey. “This report demonstrates the need for a rethink about social housing policy, recognising that for a large group of New Zealanders lifelong State and social housing options will be needed.”

The topic of social housing for older New Zealanders has become more significant in recent years. The ANZ’s annual Retirement Villages Association survey focused on social housing for the first time in this year’s survey. RVA Executive Director John Collyns was pleased to see it included.

“We know there is an issue. At least 20 per cent of people aged 65 and over don’t own property, and this is set to increase. We have a strong interest in making sure we don’t lose sight of these people,” he says.

The Selwyn Foundation is one provider that takes a strong stance on social housing. It recently became an officially registered Community Housing Provider (CHP) and now supports tenants who face financial hardship by accessing the Ministry of Social Development’s income-related rent subsidy.

In its capacity as a CHP, Selwyn recently partnered with Auckland Council to become the council’s preferred community housing partner for its portfolio of homes for older Aucklanders. In addition to housing, Selwyn developed a range of community programmes to address the issues of healthy living, isolation and loneliness.

Shamubeel and Selena Eaqub shed light on some of the issues raised in the Salvation Army report several years ago with the release of their book, Generation Rent, in which they discussed how New Zealanders are increasingly relying on inheritance as means of home ownership.

This year, Shamubeel provided an update on The Spinoff.

“The politics will eventually force the issues. At the 2013 Census, half of the New Zealand population aged over 15 lived in a rental. Soon, Generation Rent will be the majority of the population and eventually the majority of voters.”

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