Wary of creating stigma

Otakou Health principal Iwi adviser Matt Matahaere and chairwoman Donna Matahaere-Atariki at...
Otakou Health principal Iwi adviser Matt Matahaere and chairwoman Donna Matahaere-Atariki at their Caversham headquarters after speaking in favour of changes to social housing rules yesterday afternoon. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Fears of stigmatising social housing tenants and the creation of ghettos were among the views presented by submitters as Kainga Ora came out in opposition to rules designed to provide more social housing in Dunedin.

The Dunedin City Council’s hearings committee held the second day of hearings for changes to the second generation district plan yesterday, considering rules to make a new sub-activity of social housing.

This would allow for social housing being created at higher densities than other housing in the same area.

Kainga Ora counsel Nick Whittington said density provisions had been created for a reason and there was no reason why people living in social housing should have a different density standard applied to them.

‘‘There is also the other side of the coin which is that actually, despite the laudable purpose, there is a real fear that it may have the opposite effect by inherently exacerbating the stigma that already exists for social housing tenants.’’

Kainga Ora also had concerns that the new provisions would create a negative precedent about how appropriate or lawful it was to distinguish between social and other housing in the district plan.

‘‘We may have people pushing for private plan changes seeking to exclude social housing being constructed in their neighbourhoods, which in my submission would not be a good outcome ... and it would not be supportive of social wellbeing in general.’’

Mr Whittington said he accepted it might seem strange for the Crown entity responsible for housing and urban development to make a submission against provisions that would in some senses make it easier for them to operate.

However, it had a wider statutory obligation ‘‘than simply being a good landlord and being a constructor of social and affordable housing’’

Sweep Consultancy principal Emma Peters spoke on behalf of several submitters at the hearing, and was asked by hearing committee commissioner Gary Rae for her thoughts on provisions for higher density social housing.

She said she could see both sides of the situation, and it was admirable that the council was trying to boost social housing stocks.

‘‘I can also see Kainga Ora’s perspective that we don’t want, I suppose at the worst extreme, ghettoes, and that density can provide ghettoes if you aren’t providing the other amenities along with it.’’

Mr Rae said higher density social housing would be a restricted discretionary activity and the consideration given to such developments before they got the go-ahead should temper fears of creating ghettoes.

Elsewhere in the hearing, the panel heard from potential developers keen to take advantage of the proposed social housing rules.

Under the proposal only registered community housing providers would be able to take advantage of the loosened rules.

Ms Peters spoke to the Dunedin City Baptist Church’s submission, which called for these rules to be loosened to allow other non-profits to create the higher density social housing.

Te Runanga o Otakou deputy chairwoman Donna Matahaere-Atariki spoke on behalf of Otakou Health and was also in favour of a broadening of the rules.

‘‘We want to get into the business of responding to the needs of our communities and the 7000 people we work with ... Ngai Tahu like to do things ourselves.’’

andrew.marshall@odt.co.nz

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