Community housing investment defended

The Dunedin City Council's investment in community housing has been defended, despite a planned review aiming to address a $100,000 shortfall in the portfolio's budget.

Councillors at this week's annual plan meeting considered a report from the council's property services staff, which confirmed the community housing budget was running a $100,000 deficit despite a rent increase of between 1.1% and 1.5%.

The council's policy was for rent from the council's community housing flats to cover the cost of their upkeep, giving a break-even result.

The council was now planning to review the funding policy for housing in time for the 2020-21 annual plan process.

Council city services general manager Sandy Graham said that would include looking at whether further rent increases were realistic, or if other solutions could be identified.

The deficit was in part a result of earlier problems of deferred maintenance within the portfolio, but that was not the main driver, she said.

Instead, new requirements for housing - such as extra insulation - were pushing costs up, councillors heard.

Cr Aaron Hawkins welcomed the review but said it was a "misnomer" to talk of community housing if ratepayers were not prepared to subsidise some of the cost for those in need.

Cr Lee Vandervis disagreed, saying the council had already invested millions in the portfolio, and retained them even as some other councils sold theirs.

Using an extra $100,000 from ratepayers to subsidise community housing tenants was "completely iniquitous", he believed.

Cr Jim O'Malley rejected that, saying a community was judged by "how you treat those most in need".

"People are in need and for us to ignore them is not fair," he said.


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