OUR VIEW: Time ripe to tackle housing problem

By Editorial

It's pleasing to see the approach taken by Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby and the city council around the issue of housing affordability in the city.
The chances of our city's citizens being able to buy a home is a topic that always seems to pop up whenever Tauranga's leaders sit down to look at the future and the issues the population may face.
Housing affordability was back in the spotlight yesterday, following the release of the seventh annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey of 325 cities and regions.
The survey found homes in Tauranga to be less affordable than those in New York - affordability was measured through taking median house prices and dividing them by gross annual median household income.
Tauranga had a median house price of $352,900 and a median household income of $54,600, giving the city a ranking of 6.5. That grade made Tauranga houses less affordable than those in New York, which had a ranking of 6.1, as well as the other New Zealand centres surveyed - Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton, Napier-Hastings, Palmerston North and Dunedin.
Some doubt has been thrown on the extent of the affordability problem by Bayleys and Eves Realty spokesman Gil Beadle, who believed the survey results were due to a lack of supply of lower to mid-priced homes in Tauranga, coupled with a large number of retired people, who affected the average income.
Mr Beadle has a point, although Demographia will no doubt stand behind their survey and the results it produced.

Regardless of who's right in that particular debate, there can be no doubt that the survey results present a very real threat to one of Tauranga's key marketing assets - the desirability of the city as a destination for young couples looking to raise a family.
Right now, the city's population continues to grow, due in no small part to families choosing to live here and bring up children. But if there comes a time where your average parent feels they can't afford to buy a house in Tauranga, it can be reasonably expected that there will be a negative effect on the city's growth.
For that reason, Mr Crosby and the city council should be applauded for at least realising the extent of the issue, as well as working with land developers and builders and trying to improve wages and salaries in an effort to try and address housing affordability before the problem gets worse.
Cynics will suggest that the moves Mr Crosby outlined to this newspaper will be nothing more than hollow rhetoric, until such time as real change is effected.
They're right but having recently been re-elected as mayor with a huge majority, and with a new council with fresh blood on board, the time is now surely right for Mr Crosby and our city's leaders to start making inroads into this problem.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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