OPINION: Housing quick fix challenging but necessary

The Queenstown Lakes district faces an acute housing affordability and accommodation crisis.

This issue isn’t new, but has significantly intensified recently.

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time over the last two years meeting with a diverse range of stakeholders seeking to understand the complexities of this issue and what can be done about it.

My discussions with property developers, local council, social agencies, various other community leaders, affected individuals, and Members of Parliament have highlighted the complex nature of this long-standing problem.

I’ve also hosted community meetings and written to ministers, jumped out of a plane to draw the government’s attention to the situation, and delivered a petition to Parliament recently to get the government to act and amend the legislation relating to the Accommodation Supplement area boundaries in the Queenstown-Lakes, which haven’t changed since 1992.

What’s very clear is the need for action has become even more urgent as stories surface of the working homeless, those people who are in full-time jobs but living in their vans and tents.

As more people seek to live and work in Queenstown, it comes with significant growing pains.

Identifying a quick fix to the lack of available housing, which has been a problem for decades, is very challenging but necessary.

We also need to address the complex root causes of the issue, that centre on supply, choice, availability, and quality.

Some developers say they’ve been trying to provide affordable housing in the district since 2016 and have yet to be successful for various reasons.

Another concern in the community’s the worker accommodation shortage, making it very difficult for the great people who choose to live and work here, and for businesses seeking to recruit and retain staff.

Some say provision of worker accommodation as part of their business’ long-term workforce strategy has become critical to the survival of their business.

Fundamental changes to address the root causes of the crisis are also needed for the long term and discussions with Queenstown mayor Glyn Lewers and councillors, on how central and local government can work together to improve housing outcomes, are ongoing.

The Ladies Mile masterplan’s one option for a faster solution.

That could see the development of 2400 high or medium-density homes and potentially include a town centre, supermarket, a new high school, a new primary school, and a sports/community hub — the streamlined planning process request was approved by Environment
Minister David Parker last week.

Meantime, the Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust has 870 eligible houses on its wait list — more are being added daily.

Adequate and affordable housing is a problem throughout New Zealand, but the Queenstown-Lakes has been particularly affected by this for

I’d also suggest it would be sensible to consider, as a community, what we want and need in terms of our physical and social infrastructure.

We need a clear roadmap for our energy, community spaces and multi-modal transport visions to ensure we have a well-connected and resilient place to live in this wonderful part of the world we call home.

I’ll continue my advocacy efforts to find solutions, mindful that while we need immediate action to alleviate the crisis we’re facing now, addressing the root causes of the housing issue requires a multi-faceted approach.

Joseph Mooney is Southland’s MP

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