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Housing affordability has become an increasingly acute social issue in New Zealand, as house prices rise at a faster rate than incomes. However, recent media attention on real estate inflation in Auckland and Christchurch masks the fact that this is not a new problem.
In fact, in the 1990s The Tindall Foundation brought together agencies including Habitat for Humanity and the Salvation Army to devise a body that could advance ideas around affordable housing. Following a period of research and strategic planning, the New Zealand Housing Foundation took shape—with social and affordable housing specialist Brian Donnelly as Executive Director.
Ten years on from its founding in 2004, the New Zealand Housing Foundation has introduced new models for social housing to this country, while building more than 300 homes for both its own projects and other community groups. Its first major development, in the West Auckland suburb of Glen Eden, put the concept of placemaking at the heart of a 73-home project—creating a sustainable, mixed community in harmony with the local environment.
Throughout the organisation’s evolution, we have remained closely involved.
Trevor Gray, Special Projects Manager of The Tindall Foundation, described the partnership as “walking beside each other” to share expertise and best practice. “New Zealand Housing Foundation has been great at meeting its financial and reputational commitments,” he said.
One area the partnership has fostered is social investment, which is separate from donations and grants. This enables the Housing Foundation to use capital like a passive ‘mum and dad’, putting in a proportion of a house’s cost, and sharing in ownership until this share is paid out by the homeowner. Not only does this help families, but it has also expanded the capital base for other operations.
Over 400 more Housing Foundation-facilitated houses are on the way. These include the largest undertaking yet, a $120 million development with key partners at Waimahia Inlet in South Auckland, and a first project in Christchurch (at Hornby). Brian recognised that many more families are requiring help— “the need nationwide is around 10,000 households”. Our ongoing partnership and, hopefully, the contribution of other ‘social investors’ will help to encourage further solutions to one of this country’s major social challenges.
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