Rotorua Lakes Council says the "proof is in the pudding" with the private market already responding to the housing crisis as well as council initiatives aimed at enabling 10,000 new homes by 2050.
Council district development deputy chief executive Jean-Paul Gaston says momentum is building in housing in Rotorua, with a rise in residential consents per quarter since the first national lockdown last year.
He made the comments in a year in review presentation to the Strategy, Policy and Finance Committee at a meeting on Thursday afternoon.
Gaston's presentation also showed the growth in the number of new dwelling consents between September last year and September this year had a 124 per cent annual average change.
That compared with a national annual average change for the same period of 25 per cent.
"Unsurprisingly we're starting to see a market that is responding to the fact that we are in a housing crisis," Gaston said.
"You can start seeing that growing momentum that's required here in our community if we're to start ... addressing that [housing] deficit we have".
Another part of Gaston's presentation showed the council had issued 90 new dwelling consents in the quarter to September 2021.
That compared to 42 in the same period last year and a 10-year average of 41.
"Again, you're starting to see that step up that's necessary if we're to start making some progress against the number of dwellings and the number of available homes that this community needs – not only to address the deficit but also to start making sure we've got sufficient homes as we grow."
His presentation also showed the average annual dwelling consents in the district since 2012 was 111, but in the last financial year it was 331, and he projected there would be between 350 and 400 in the 2021 / 2022 financial year.
A slide also showed a snapshot of where the developments were – all over the city.
"There's a pipeline there of about 775 available houses or lots for development.
"As of last week, there's another 120 ... so by Christmas, we might have another 100, 150 consented lots ready for someone to start developing."
Gaston said the housing targets the council had set for itself – 3560 houses by 2023, 6240 by 2030 and 9740 by 2050 – were "extremely ambitious".
"We start from a position of crisis with a shortage of housing so significant we have humanitarian issues and significant over-reliance ... on motels as emergency housing".
He said the "incredible deficit" of housing affected not just the homeless but also first home buyers and downsizing retirees.
Rotorua's housing crisis was "amplified" by unemployment, particularly in the tourism sector, Gaston said.
"We are one of the local economies devastated by Covid-19 from a social and an economic perspective."
While there were unemployment issues, there was also a workforce challenge, he said, including one for the council, which had staff vacancies while also trying to ramp up consenting.
Another challenge was an uncertain legislative environment, with the Government making "significant changes" through things like Three Waters reform, changes to the Resource Management Act and the Future for Local Government Review.
He said the council had also been successful progressing two of three expressions of interest to the Infrastructure Acceleration Fund.
The council applied for $113m for the fund for predominantly stormwater upgrade developments in the east, west and central city, with the latter two – a total of $90m – progressing to the next stage of applications. It was expected the upgrades, if funded, could help yield about 3085 homes.
He said relationships and partnerships with iwi, central government and private developers were important to meet the targets set.
He acknowledged the "clarity, direction and leadership" on housing from elected members of the council.
"That really helps us as an organisation … [it] enables us to be unified in our efforts."
In the meeting, councillor Reynold Macpherson asked if the number of people in emergency accommodation was expected to stay the same or increase, and Gaston said the Government's aim was to build more public housing to lessen the reliance on emergency housing.
"I'd like to think the number is going to go down but we may still see a bit more of an impact of the cost of living and the cost of rent before we actually can get sufficient investment in new homes and affordable rentals and or public housing.
"Until we start addressing that supply, we do risk seeing more people [in emergency accommodation]."
Councillor Tania Tapsell said there was a need not just for private investment but also public housing.
She asked if the council had plans to increase pensioner housing in the district as well as invest and it.
Gaston said he would investigate it, but it was challenging to provide affordable rent as there was no subsidy for it from the government, so it often required partnership with community housing providers.
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said the market responding to the housing crisis was "gold for us."
She asked Gaston if he was on track to reach the "terribly hard, aspirational target" for homes.
Gaston said there were "headwinds" but said the direction of travel was "extremely good".