City's housing needs difficult to quantify

Lack of cross-referencing between the Dunedin City Council and central Government is making it hard to develop a clear picture of the city's housing problems, a councillor says.

The number of people on the waiting list for council community housing in Dunedin had reached 244 people in total at the end of March.

Several readers also contacted the Otago Daily Times earlier this month regarding unoccupied state housing in the city and latest figures, from the end of December 2018, revealed 155 people were on MSD's waiting list for state housing - 30 more than in June last year.

A report to the council's latest infrastructure services and networks committee meeting, prepared by property services group manager David Bainbridge, said staff were working with the Ministry of Social Development to see if the DCC waiting list, which has risen by 18 people since the beginning of the year, could be cross-checked with the waiting list for Housing NZ.

Councillor Aaron Hawkins, who sits on the Mayor's Taskforce for Housing, said yesterday the lack of sharing between the Government and council was one of the main reasons it was difficult to know the scale of the problem.

"We know it's likely there are people on more than one waiting list, and just as likely that there are people in need who aren't on any," he said.

"There's no relationship between whether someone takes the offer of a council flat and their place on the social housing register."

The trend for increased demand on council housing matched what councillors were seeing anecdotally - but the real challenge was getting "a more detailed picture of housing needs across the city", Mr Hawkins said.

Information sharing was made difficult by the Privacy Act 1993, Mr Hawkins said, and being able to crossreference the lists without breaching people's privacy was one of the challenges MSD and the council faced.

The council did not provide emergency housing and people were free to decline offers of council housing without losing their place on the waiting list - for instance if they were waiting for a house in a particular location.

Of those in the priority one category for council housing, a report to the Dunedin City Council's infrastructure services and networks committee said roughly half had declined an offer of housing.

The taskforce's housing action plan will go to the Dunedin City Council's May 6 meeting.

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