Thirty-four workers in "essential services" have won heavily discounted houses under a scheme aimed at helping them afford to live in Auckland.
The 34 teachers, nurses, police officers and residential construction workers have bought houses in Glen Innes at an "affordable" price of $650,000, even though their market value was between $750,000 and $940,000.
The developer, Creating Communities, says it put subsidies totalling $6.23 million into the scheme - an average windfall of $183,000 for each lucky buyer.
Tamaki College teacher Brenton Moyes, who bought one of the houses with his wife Renee, said at first he "couldn't believe it".
"To have that solid fix, it was a blessing," he said.
"Renee is working at the airport. For me, work is literally two minutes down the road . . . It's the place I want to live for the rest of my life."
The couple had their first child just under two years ago, daughter Harper, and had been thinking of joining other teachers forced to move out of Auckland because they couldn't afford to buy a home in the city.
"At the auctions the minimum was $750,000, we had been looking around thinking it was not even worth it," Moyes said. "You'd turn up and see BMWs and the rest of it."
Creating Communities, a consortium formed in 2012 to build at least 260 new homes to replace 156 state houses at Glen Innes, was required by the Government to include at least 39 "affordable" homes, described at the time as "possibly owned or managed through other social or community housing providers".
Consortium director Murdoch Dryden said five homes were sold to IHC's social housing arm Accessible Properties, and the other 34 were offered to workers in "essential services".
He said most developers required to include 10 per cent "affordable" homes as a condition for fast-track consent in Special Housing Areas were economically incentivised to build "something like a bedsit" that was worth below the limit of 75 per cent of the regional median house price.
"That is no good for a young family," he said.
"Our view was that we would get a greater social dividend out of getting young families into the area, and giving them housing security so they can stay in the same house, build social networks and their kids develop a sense of home, and not move around schools."
Developers at Hobsonville and Waimahia (Weymouth) have held ballots where demand exceeded supply of affordable homes, but Dryden's group publicised its scheme only to schools and other community agencies in Glen Innes and chose people based on four criteria:
• First-home buyers qualifying for Welcome Home loans with incomes below $130,000 for couples or $85,000 for individuals, but with a 10 per cent deposit and ability to service a mortgage.
• Glen Innes community connections.
• Working in "essential services" (health, education, police, fire or residential construction).
• Community service.
Most of the houses are two-bedroom units, but three have three bedrooms, and 23 were offered with consents to add a third bedroom and garage when the buyers could afford it.
"We would want to put on an extra bedroom if we can," said Moyes.
Dryden said the sale and purchase agreements stated an "expectation" that the buyers would live in their homes for at least two years, but that clause was not legally enforceable.
Two people from the company and two from the community chose the successful buyers, using local networks to check that they were genuinely part of the Glen Innes community.
He said the chosen buyers included 16 working in education, 10 in residential construction, eight in health, and five police officers. Some couples covered more than one sector between them.
Community housing spokesman Peter Jeffries said he was not aware of any other developer limiting houses to people in essential services, and said it was unfortunate that Auckland Council rejected an affordable housing requirement in the new unitary plan.
Tamaki Housing Group activist Sue Henry said the 156 original state house tenants in the area had been evicted to make way for only 78 new state houses plus the 39 "affordable" houses and others being sold on the open market for up to $1.4 million.
"It's a population replacement programme," she said. "What they are doing is replacing the poor with people who can pay high prices."