Corporate Member: Dunedin City Council

Name of Organisation: Dunedin City Council (DCC)

CEO: Sue Bidrose (interview with Alana Reid, Housing Manager, Dunedin City Council)

Joined AHI: 2018

Vision of organisation:

“The Dunedin City Council’s vision is to be one of the world’s great small cities.”

Summary of services provided:

“Under our social wellbeing strategy, we are committed to making sure there’s an affordable housing option in the city. We do this by providing 937 housing units, mostly single-person units for people aged over 55.”

Defining features of organisation:

“As the second largest residential landlord in Dunedin, we’re one of the few local authorities in New Zealand that still has a reasonably big portfolio. The only local authority landlord that’s bigger than us is Wellington City Council. The other metropolitan councils like Auckland, Christchurch and Hamilton have built relationships with independent community providers to help with housing affordability for their residents.”

“In New Zealand, council housing has traditionally been known as elderly persons’ housing, and has been around since the late 1940s. That’s when the DCC got into that space. In Dunedin, Housing New Zealand has traditionally provided the housing for families, and the DCC has provided the elderly persons’ housing. Some of our units date back to 1949 or 1950. They’re mostly designed as units for single people or married couples, and the need for this kind of housing is growing.”

“Another defining feature is that our work in the council housing area is closely linked to affordable and healthy housing solutions across the city. It’s important that we lead the way as an excellent landlord. We’re providing initiatives in insulation and eco-design, and working with partners across the city to lift standards in these areas. We also advocate for legislative changes to improve the quality of rental housing.”

Achievements of organisation this year:

“We’ve recognised that we need more housing now. The social housing register’s growing, our waiting lists are long and community groups are saying there are people on the street who simply can’t get into housing. The DCC’s Mayoral Taskforce for Housing was established in 2018 to respond to this need.”

“The taskforce is a multi-sector group of people from the DCC, the city’s community housing providers, commercial property managers, health sector representatives, tertiary institutions, government departments and iwi (first peoples). It is recognised Māori and Pasifika people are over-represented in the group needing public housing.”

“The taskforce’s interim report in November last year recommended a number of approaches to increase housing supply – advocacy, leadership, maintaining support for current practical initiatives, and better partnerships and collaboration between government, tertiary education and commercial sectors.”

“The report wants to see more incentives provided to landlords to improve heating, ventilation and insulation, and education for residents on keeping a home warm, dry and healthy. It also recommends initiatives to improve physical access to houses for people living with disabilities.”

“We need a strong housing action plan, with some fundamental changes to national policy and a structural overhaul of housing regulations, which the taskforce is keen to tackle. That’s been our focus through 2018, and will continue to be through 2019.”

(After HousingWORKS’ editorial deadline, Dunedin City Council planned to hold a housing summit to share information gathered by the taskforce and gain input from stakeholders, such as city planners and developers, to tackle housing supply in the region).

Current programs:

“We have a project underway to develop one of our community housing sites. We’re adopting the passive house principles for this project, and our initial planning shows the units are going to earn a Homestar rating between seven and eight. Very little added heating will be needed, which will make a substantial difference to the people that live there. That’s pretty exciting for those tenants.”

Comment on the current state of housing:

“Dunedin is growing much faster than predicted a couple of years ago. The taskforce has identified we are currently 650 social households short. In addition, 17 percent of Dunedin’s population is aged 65 or over but a number of reports say, in the next 20 years, it’s going to be 26 percent of the population, and we’re not building the houses we need to support that growth.”

“More people are renting and for longer. There’s a significant cohort of people who will rent right through into middle and old age.”

“Substantial development is also planned for the city, such as the building of a new hospital, a proposal for waterfront development, campus improvements and an upgrade of streets in the city centre.”

Why did you become a Corporate Member of the Institute?

It’s an organisation that’s good to be a part of – it’s the professional organisation for people working in the sector.”

“I hope that soon you will need a qualification to work in the rental housing market. Our experience of the Australasian Housing Institute is that they offer valuable workshops, information and access to research.”

For more information about Dunedin City Council , visit https://www.dunedin.govt.nz/facilities/community-housing

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