Matt Fyffe has an extensive background in public sector and construction consultancy services, both here and in the UK. In recent years he has worked for Kainga Ora in the provision of large-scale public housing roles.
Perhaps the key challenge facing councils in amongst the massive reforms going on is identifying how to continue to be relevant to the communities they serve.
What should councils be doing if they are no longer required to deliver a core service like three waters? A basic need that has never been more topical or necessary is the provision of public housing.
The Government has signalled in the recent policy statement on housing and urban design that it expects local government to align its policy and investment to help deliver a place-based housing strategy.
This means careful consideration of the needs of their community and how councils contribute to the delivery of local housing solutions. We see councils can look not only to being an enabler of housing development, but also, as a collective, being a core public housing provider alongside CHPs and Kainga Ora.
Council’s housing portfolios throughout the country tend to be relatively small in scale, ageing and built to the standards and community needs of the time. Much of the existing stock does not fit the contemporary housing standards of a warm, healthy and hospitable environment.
With an ageing population and one that will increasingly not have the security of their own home as they move into retirement, councils’ role in providing housing for this demographic of the community becomes increasing important.
The $2 billion support package that is being offered up by the government as part of the water reform is of sufficient scale that it could reset the clock for housing portfolios of councils or provide opportunity to enter that service.
It is timely that councils consider what is the next step in their plan for social housing. Is it a matter of spending money on a reset through a significant renewal programme, or making the most of the land and develop new housing to last for the next 50 to 60 years?
Either way, the water reform funding could be the ideal opportunity to look at investing in housing as a way for that to deliver valuable services to the community and value for the community.
Our message to councils is to have a clear strategy and plan for investing in their housing portfolio. Being organised and ready to go will enable councils to engage quickly with a constrained construction sector when the time comes, converting capital to long term community value. LG