More than 100,000 voting packs for this year's Northland Regional Council, Whangārei, Far North and Kaipara district councils, community board and Northland District Health Board elections have been sent out for the election.
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Votes must be posted back by Tuesday, October 8 to ensure they are received before the elections close at noon on Saturday, October 12.
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As part of its 2019 local body election coverage Whangārei's mayoral candidates Sheryl Mai, Alex Wright and Tony Savage have answered a series of questions posed by the Northern Advocate.
We gave them 200 words to answer each question.
Today they answer the question: How would you support community housing providers to work effectively, alongside others, to improve housing in the district?
Tomorrow they will answer the question: What do you think is an acceptable debt level for council?
A warm, safe, dry and affordable home is a basic human right. Currently council provides pensioner housing, and there is a waiting list! We know there is a shortage of affordable homes in our district.
The District Plan Urban and Services Section review aims to enable intensification in existing residential zoned land, allow smaller lot sizes, and ensure new homes are built where existing infrastructure supports them, close to public transport and amenities.
Council's role is to provide regulatory services, and partner where appropriate. We have fantastic community housing providers working to improve housing in Whangārei.
Healthy Homes is leading the way in bringing solar power, insulation and energy efficiency to homes and businesses in the region. Housing First is an initiative with Ngati Hine Health Trust, Kahui Tu Kaha and One Double Five Whare Awhina Community House united to implement a local housing solution funded through Government.
Housing NZ, Habitat for Humanity, KiwiBuild, Kainga Ora – Homes and Communities, tiny houses, Papakainga, inner city living, new apartments, philanthropist landlords and developers will all play a part in easing the crisis.
The mayor's role is to champion these great initiatives, identify and help reduce impediments, and advocate for our community.
Working on more affordable housing options, provision of short-term accommodation, freeing up land, taking a fresh look at underused buildings and making things easier, cheaper and faster for people would be some of the ways I would support community housing providers. Council should facilitate local partnership opportunities and call on central government to reduce barriers to community housing.
Some of the specific policy proposals council can progress include:
· Council can use rates remission and postponement options that make it easier for first-home builders and for landlords to convert commercial building to residential in the CBD.
· Streamline the council's consenting process and make applying for consent easier and more efficient
· Review council's residential growth strategy with a view to increasing housing land supply, investigate under-utilised land for suitable housing development, urban consolidation and infill housing.
· Work with central government agencies to progress intensification of under-utilised social housing land.
A collaborative approach is essential, with council partnering with the community on implementation.
I would support all kinds of community housing providers.
The providers must meet criteria of having adequate funding ideas and be planning to use local contractors with sufficient resources. We will examine the profit motive and above all make sure that such schemes are affordable to the everyday working people to rent or buy and also ensure that there is housing for pensioners.
After getting submissions from these providers we need our team in council to form an overall plan. Only once we have the overall picture will we see how council can be fair to all of them and also be fair to the existing house owners in Whangārei. For instance, there must be many areas in Whangārei where a few affordable houses can be built without impacting adversely on the existing situation.
Once we have the consensus I will go out of my way to make things easy for them.
We will again see what central government can offer.
We will see how quickly we can process the resource and building consents.
I believe the Government will allow us to speed up the processes if we can show that our situation needs urgent attention.