WHAM isn't a throwback to the George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley 1980s duo, it's Wellington's new housing affordability measure.

It will take into consideration total household incomes and living costs before it determines what money is left for housing.

Community housing groups hope it could be used to inform national affordability statistics used by the Government if it's successful.

Wellington City Council housing development best practice manager Julie Rushton said the measure was more specific than a "magic number" approach.

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She said it would account for diversity in the population and assess the situation of particular groups.

"For example, a couple on a medium to higher income level, what's affordable for them is quite different to what a solo parent on benefits could afford.

"So, to apply one magic number and say 'that's what's affordable across the population', we don't think works."

Rushton said the measure was flexible and could be used for renting and ownership situations including development projects or the council's social housing portfolio.

Wellington City Council housing development best practice manager Julie Rushton said the measure would account for diversity in the population and assess the situation of particular groups.
Wellington City Council housing development best practice manager Julie Rushton said the measure would account for diversity in the population and assess the situation of particular groups.

Wellington City Council housing portfolio leader councillor Brian Dawson said the measure was citizen centric.

"It begins with the person rather than the price."

Dawson said anyone who wanted to work with the new government on its KiwiBuild programme would have to factor in affordability and be able to provide specific information from their patch.

Community Housing Aotearoa CEO Scott Figenshow said the move was progressive.

"It's very different from the international benchmark that everyone is using which is that a household should be able to access housing that's suitable for them by paying roughly a third of their income in either rent or mortgage and related costs."

Figenshow said the measure was complimentary to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Housing Affordability Measure.

He said he would ideally like to see some reconciliation between MBIE's work and the council's.

"This piece of work that Wellington city is doing is one that we would hope would influence what central government would then be using as the core statistic around how we measure affordability in every community around New Zealand."

Salvation Army social policy analyst Alan Johnson said it could add depth to MBIE's aggregate measure.

"Sometimes aggregates just end up talking to us about the average and a lot of people's experiences are much different to the average."

"It probably would be better if we had more specific information about at-risk groups in very expensive markets."

Johnson said it could also be used as a tool for the council and other groups to lobby for policy change like increasing the accommodation supplement.