Treasury continues to feel its way into the unexplored territory of selling off Housing NZ houses in Invercargill and Tauranga to non-government buyers. In series of Market Information and Feedback sessions being held around the country, Treasury and Ministry of Social Development have been sketching the outlines of the tortuous path the government has chosen to try and increase the supply of social houses. It would surely have been easier to simply instruct Housing NZ to work on a larger scale with other social housing providers to redevelop exiting properties to create more units as they are already doing around the country.
After attending the Wellington briefing, there are still many questions unanswered. The briefing confirmed that a community housing provider must be the buyer or part of a consortium buying the properties. New legislation passed on Budget night gives more flexibility in designing income related rent subsidy (IRRS) contracts to better suit the needs of tenants and housing providers. MSD contracts for other “wrap around services” for tenants are not part of the bundle of contracts and arrangements for these contracts (MSD plans to look at this at some later point). The specific outcomes that Treasury is seeking from the transactions remain relatively undefined (better than HNZ is doing might be a good summary!).
Several of those at the session asked how tenants are being involved in this process. Treasury advised that thus far (apart from a letter and info sent by HNZ) tenants have not been involved. It was pointed out to officials that, if this was all about getting better outcomes for tenants, that it is important that the tenants be more involved in the process. Perhaps they could be asked what they would like to see happen in their communities?
Treasury is asking for feedback about the size, scope and process for any transfers by 3rd July 2015. Send any comments to email@example.com. The presentations and market information background papers are on the Treasury website.