Scheme to tackle QT housing affordability

A unique scheme that sees home and land separated so people on lower incomes can afford to buy a home in Queenstown while renting the land it sits on in perpetuity, has been recommended by a mayoral taskforce looking at ways of making homes in the town more affordable.

The scheme would be a first in New Zealand.

The land would be owned by the Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust (QLCHT), the home would be owned by the home owner and any market-value increase of the home would be capped, allowing others in a similar financial position the ability to buy the house if it was sold in the future.

Queenstown Lakes District councillor and Taskforce Chair, John MacDonald  said this approach would be used across the district with the aim of having 1,000 affordable homes available for use by 2028.

Other recommendations from the taskforce include building a portfolio of secure long-term rental options, changes to visitor accommodation such as Airbnb, changes to zoning and intensification regulations, addressing household income support with central Government and building a long-term housing strategy for the district with a stronger, scaled up QLCHT.

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult formed the taskforce earlier this year to investigate ways of addressing housing availability and affordability across the district, with an emphasis on the needs of key workers, families and long term residents.

The taskforce's report, released this morning, presents six recommendations, all aimed at addressing the supply and affordability of housing, while offering families and workers security of tenure and the ability to buy into New Zealand’s least affordable housing market.

“The Taskforce has done a magnificent job in a relatively short amount of time. I am delighted to see such a range of aspirational but practical solutions to our district’s housing issues and I will be urging the Council to accept the report,” said Mayor Boult.

Mr MacDonald hoped his fellow councillors would vote to adopt its recommendations in full at their October 26 meeting.

“While we’re all lucky to be able to call this place home, buying into the market is almost impossible for many residents. We’ve taken a fresh approach to the idea of home ownership and have some really forward-focused recommendations that will help people to find quality long term rentals or get into their own home, while creating a community housing asset that will exist for many years to come.”

“Sitting by and hoping the housing market will develop a solution of its own simply hasn’t worked and we need to take action to ensure we continue to have a balanced community to call our own. People have already been forced out of our district by the lack of secure, quality, affordable housing and we want to do whatever we can to ensure this doesn’t continue.”

“We want to create an asset owned by the community designed solely for the purpose of ensuring there continues to be a vibrant local presence in the district.

"If house prices continue to move the way they have been there simply is no way the people we need to run our district will be able to afford to live here, and that will have huge implications for the sense of community that is so crucial to making this a great place to work, live and visit.”

“One thing the Taskforce is at pains to avoid is any impact on existing land owners’ property values.

"We’re exploring new models of home ownership and secure accommodation, without affecting the current market and those who have already invested in it.”

QLCHT trustee and taskforce member Stephen Brent said he believed there was real potential to strengthen the trust’s relationship with QLDC and progress the proposals listed in the taskforce’s report.

The trust had been involved right from the start and was "really positive" about the options being put forward.”

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