Housing crisis to deepen as plans significantly delayed

New figures show the resort is the most expensive place to rent a house in New Zealand. Photo:...
Photo: Guy Williams/ODT files
Social agencies are warning Queenstown authorities the area’s housing crisis will deepen, as the district council acknowledges plans to address the issue will be significantly delayed.

Queenstown Salvation Army Lieutenant Andrew Wilson said since Covid-19, there had been a major spike in housing inquiries and client numbers in general.

"The overwhelming majority of our clients are people who have some sort of housing insecurity issue.

"Whether it’s having to move out of their current dwellings, or they can’t afford their rent, or they’re having to work overtime to do so."

Since Covid-19 the issues had got worse, largely because of population increases and a lack of suitable housing to meet the demand.

"There was about a two-year period as Covid-19 hit where the pressure subsided, but from about mid-last year, we saw the underlying issues re-emerge.

"We need people across the sectors from local government to business to put together some robust long-term planning."

There was a need for more high-density housing, particularly as families were often competing with individuals for the same properties, Mr Wilson said.

"We are seeing houses where each bedroom is marketed as a standalone unit ... this pushes out the ability for families to compete."

He remained an "eternal optimist".

"Time and time again, we have seen the community grapple with some really big issues.

"We saw it during Covid-19, when you have the right people and right plans in place, you can achieve anything."

His comments come as the Queenstown Lakes District Council acknowledged in a report this week it would have to delay its future development strategy by up to a year, after it failed to secure up-to-date data.

The information was due to be complete in time for the 2024-34 long-term plan, but the report acknowledged this was no longer possible, and instead the council hoped to have it ready for the 2025-26 annual plan.

Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust chief executive Julie Scott said there was a massive demand for entry level housing in terms of buying and renting.

"This is evidenced by our waiting list of over 1100 households and simply by looking at the lack of supply, and the cost of rentals in the local market.

"Not to mentioned a median house price of $1.7 million — not achievable for the average household on our waiting list with a gross household income of $70,000."

The trust had 141 homes in its portfolio, while it had assisted 265 households to date, and there were 96 homes under construction.

"I think we’re back at pre-Covid-19 rents following a reduction in rental costs during the lockdown stages."

The Queenstown council has been approached for comment.