21 November 2018

Southland Housing Action Forum taking concerns to Government

Southland Chamber of Commerce

The Southland Housing Action Forum is meeting Government and sector representatives next week as part of a concerted approach to tackling wide-ranging housing concerns in the region.

The Southland Chamber of Commerce has been facilitating meetings between like-minded community organisations to look at solutions to housing shortages in Southland.

Some of the more pressing housing issues involve shortages of affordable worker and family housing, shortages in social and emergency housing, a lack of executive housing, and increasing demand for aged-care housing.

Southland Housing Action Forum Chair Shaun Drylie, who is also a Chamber Board Director and CEO of SBS Bank, said it was crucial Southland’s voice was heard at a national level and that our region presented clear facts and a rational argument.

“We’ve now got some really good information that is giving us a more holistic view of the issues across housing in Southland.”

Venture Southland group manager business and strategic projects Steve Canny said Venture’s analysis of shortages helped present an accurate picture of demand and opportunities.

On Monday, Forum representatives are heading to Wellington to meet with Housing Minister Phil Twyford, and a range of other organisations, including Housing New Zealand and KiwiBuild.

Drylie said while there were unlikely to be quick fixes, the concerted approach would ensure Southland was well placed to make progress on addressing shortages.

He commended the work done through 2017 by the Southland Community Housing Group (SCHG).

SCHG spokesman and Habitat for Humanity Invercargill General Manager Paul Searancke said collaboration between the groups was essential.

“We need to use our collective knowledge and strengths in resolving the housing issues that exist across Southland.”

Invercargill Labour list MP Dr Liz Craig, who facilitated the Wellington meetings, said it was important to show that a lack of affordable housing was not just an Auckland issue.The delegation would help better inform policy-makers in Wellington about Southland’s situation, and enable forum members to gain a better understanding of policy settings around housing, she said.

The delegation heading to Wellington includes Dr Liz Craig MP, Southland District Mayor Gary Tong, Invercargill City Council Mayor Tim Shadbolt & Deputy Mayor Rebecca Amundsen, Southland Chamber Chief Executive Sheree Carey, Venture Southland’s Steve Canny, Paul Searanacke from Habitat for Humanity, David Hope from the Salvation Army, and Awarua Synergy CEO Sumaria Beaton.