Community housing portfolio predicted deficit of $880,000

As the Dunedin City Council’s portfolio looks set to reach a deficit of $880,000, questions are being posed about how the council should support it in the future.

The first part of a review on the council’s housing stock has been carried out in time for its 10-year plan hearings, which begin today.

A report from the council property services manager David Bainbridge-Zafar to councillors said since its inception in the 1940s, the council’s community housing portfolio was intended to operate on a break-even basis, providing accommodation for tenants at no direct cost to ratepayers.

However, for 10 of the past 15 years it had not broken even.

A deficit of $700,000 was forecast for the 2020-21 year and a deficit of $880,000 was forecast for the 2021-22 year.

The city’s housing strategy 2010-2020 noted the council’s role as a lead provider of social housing in Dunedin, particularly for older people.

Projections showed the number of people in Dunedin aged 65 and over would increase by 62% over the next 20 years.

At present, 174 people on the waiting list fell within the highest priority group, including 122 aged over 65.

There were 936 units in the council’s portfolio and no new housing had been built since 2010.

There was not sufficient funding to buy new land or build new housing units, despite the projected increase in demand, the staff report said.

Staff sought approval from councillors to include questions in the 10-year plan consultation on three key matters: whether residents support the prioritisation of council community housing tenants; whether residents support using rates to subsidise rents for council community housing; and whether the council should build more community housing units.

Staff would use the feedback provided by Dunedin residents to make recommendations to councillors to deliberate on when they make 10-year budget decisions in May.

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