Housing 'crisis' on back of jobs boom

Southland is facing a housing crisis as the region braces for an explosion in job vacancies.

The housing situation was much worse than anticipated, Chamber of Commerce chief executive Sheree Carey said.

The Southland Housing Assessment Report, released yesterday by the Southland Housing Action Forum, shows the region needs about 2800 houses in the next 12 months to cater for a growing number of residents.

It is an issue exacerbated by predictions there will be a staggering 7010 job vacancies in Southland within the next year.

The forum found a shortage of 352 rentals and 142 social and emergency housing units, and that an expected influx of new employees to Southland would create the need for more homes.

Mrs Carey, a member of the forum, said the figures in the report were of "huge concern" and indicated a housing "crisis".

"Just to keep the city growing, the economy, and for people to be able to grow their businesses, we need those houses.

"They’ve only invested about half of the [national average] of state housing in Invercargill. And look at the Southland district — there’s 40 communities in the district and they’ve had no investment in housing at all."

The report was a compilation of research and reports from several Southland organisations.

Issues  included a lack of social and emergency housing, a lack of state housing, and an increase in job vacancies just as too few temporary and permanent properties were available.

The demand for state housing had nearly tripled since the same time last year and at least 140 social and emergency houses were needed immediately. The growth of hospitality service Airbnb was also identified as "significantly impacting" the availability of rental properties after 553 properties were converted to the service.

Southland Business Survey figures used in the report showed 50% of Southland business owners planned to increase staff over the next year, opening an estimated 7010 vacancies in the region.

Based on the assumption of 33% of staff coming from outside the region, 2313 houses would be needed.

The region would also require an extra 77 houses over three years for refugees, based on the national quota.

The forum, made up of local business representatives, local government agencies and community groups, presented the report to Housing Minister Phil Twyford last week, and Mrs Carey believed he had listened to their concerns.

The forum was looking to form a "government-region partnership" and a government delegation was due to arrive before Christmas to begin assessing the issues.

"They’re moving things along fast because they know that’s how urgent this problem is."

Invercargill Deputy Mayor Rebecca Amundsen said she was excitewe were being taken seriously," she said.

"They really want to help us get things moving."

- Sharon Reece


Southland Housing Assessment Report key findings

• At least 142 social and emergency houses required immediately.

• Half of all Southland businesses plan to increase staff — creating an estimated 7010 jobs, including for planned construction projects in Invercargill.

• 553 Southland houses have been converted to Airbnb, taking an estimated 400 from the rental pool.

77 houses required over three years for refugees.

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