The changing profile of state house tenants

Hamish Rutherford reports:

Housing New Zealand is planning to ditch three-bedroom homes on quarter-acre sections in favour of one-bedroom units.

Details of the department’s plan to reconfigure its portfolio are revealed in a briefing for new Housing Minister Nick Smith.

The owner of more than $15 billion worth of state housing, the government department openly admits that barely half its portfolio properly meets the needs of its tenants.

While 43 per cent of its 69,000 homes are three bedroom houses, only 16 per cent of its “priority demand” requires a property of that size. And only 10 per cent of its portfolio is one-bedroom units, meeting 33 per cent of its highest demand.

I suspect when most were purchased or built the typical tenants were working families with several kids. Today I’d guess that most tenants are not in work and have smaller families.

This is one of the problems of attempting to deliver housing assistance through state houses rather than through accommodation subsidies. If the profile of those most in need changes over time, you end up with a mismatch.

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