Minister for Social Housing Paula Bennett confirmed today that the transfer of more than 1000 Housing New Zealand properties in Tauranga to a community housing provider would continue and be finalised in the coming months.
"I also want to reiterate that the properties will have to stay in social housing unless the government agrees otherwise, and existing tenants will be housed for the duration of their need," she said in a wide-ranging address summing up current government housing policy at the National Maori Housing Conference in Taranga.
The reason for the transfer was simple, she said. The government wanted to hand over the running of social housing to those organisations who were committed to their communities and who could show better ways of managing tenants and upgrading houses.
"Those of you working in the community, right at the coalface, know your communities best and can deliver the services that your communities need," she said. "That's why the government's Social Housing Reform Programme includes growing the community housing sector."
"We know that the government does not have a monopoly on good ideas, advice and expertise. And we understand that to address the issues our nation faces, we must all work together."
Housing NZ was investing heavily in its housing stock to get the right houses of the right size in the right place to meet current demand.
When we started these reforms, about a third of its stock was in the wrong place or was the wrong size, she said.
"The government is acutely aware of the New Zealanders who need more support, from emergency accommodation right through to permanent housing."
The minister said her two key challenges in social housing were people challenges and building challenges.
"That's why I've got such a strong focus, not just on getting the stock of social houses right - whether they are government or community owned, but also working with community housing providers to make real, long-term improvements to people's lives."
• Taxpayers will spend close to $2 billion on rental subsidies this year.