Waikato leaders aim to increase affordable housing stock by 100% in five years

The Waikato Housing Initiative welcomed the Government’s announcement today that at least four significant housing infrastructure projects in Waikato have been asked to submit more detailed applications for consideration by its Infrastructure Acceleration Fund (IAF).

The administrator of the fund, Kāinga Ora, concluded its initial evaluation of applications with successful councils, iwi and developers asked to submit final funding applications by the end of the year.

Waikato District Council Mayor Allan Sanson, Chair of the Waikato Mayoral Forum, says, “I am pleased to see Waikato projects include in the Infrastructure Acceleration Fund release noting this represents part of a wider housing programme the Forum have been working with the Waikato Housing Initiative and Government to deliver.”

The Waikato Housing Initiative is an umbrella organisation formed in 2018 by the Waikato Plan to provide a platform for collaboration and co-ordination across regional councils, funders and housing developers to develop solutions to the region’s greatest housing needs.

Co-Chair Nic Greene says only 10% of the region’s new housing stock is classed as affordable.  The Waikato Housing Initiative in collaboration with its coalition of partners aims to increase this figure to 20% by 2026.

“The Waikato region is the fourth most populous region in New Zealand, yet we have the second highest social housing register with around 2,600 applicants currently waiting for affordable housing.

“The Waikato’s median house price was $530,000 in 2018 but now sits at $774,500 with the Real Estate Institute of NZ reporting on 14 October that the Waikato median house price is up 22% from September 2020. 

“Despite housing consents in the region hitting a high of around 4,900 last year, Waikato still has major affordability challenges. That’s because the region’s housing crisis does not lie in the singular solution of just building more houses.  Rather, the issue lies in building more of the right type of houses – including affordable houses – in the right places.

“One of our region-wide goals is to see developers make 20% of their new housing stock affordable, which is an increase on the current ratio of 1 in 10,” explains Greene.

Greene says today’s Government announcement is a key milestone that will bring the region one step closer to this audacious milestone.

“The Waikato Housing Initiative in collaboration with the Waikato Mayoral Forum, which represents our region’s 12 councils, has been working with Government to shine the light on the region’s housing needs.  It’s an incredible milestone to see several Waikato housing projects make it through to the next stages of the Government’s $3.5 billion Infrastructure Acceleration Fund.”

Minister for Housing, Megan Woods, visited the region in August.  During her visit, the Waikato region worked together to make a collaborative pitch demonstrating how Government investment into the region’s affordable housing projects will be leveraged with local investment to unlock greater affordable housing outcomes. 

Greene says a stocktake report compiled by the Waikato Housing Initiative shows a regional need for over 75,000 affordable houses over the next 25 years.  “Kainga Ora housing projects will only account for around 5% of new housing stock over this period, so a collective effort by regional leaders is required to make a real impact for our communities.”

Greene says the housing challenge in Waikato is a daunting one, but with collaboration and coordination, the region is starting to get some momentum.

“The Waikato Housing Initiative has worked for four years to champion solutions for the region’s housing challenges.  The Government’s announcement of the Infrastructure Acceleration Fund news today proves that coordination and collaboration between the region’s councils, philanthropic organisations, developers and other key organisations is making a difference.

“The Waikato Housing Initiative is looking forward to working with our partners to get many more runs on the board,” he says.