Sustainable Housing in the Bay of Plenty: Strategic Advice Paper for Community Funders

BayTrust, TECT, Rotorua Trust, the Acorn Foundation and the Eastern Bay Energy Trust have joined forces to investigate how community funder can collectively make the most difference in the area of sustainable housing. Together they have commissioned a high-level strategic advisory paper from the Centre for Social Impact.

Housing is a big issue across the Bay of Plenty and is affecting individual communities in different ways. While poor quality housing and overcrowding are widespread problems, a lack of supply of affordable homes is an issue in the Western Bay, while emergency housing is proving challenging in both Rotorua and Tauranga. In small communities such as Opotiki and Kawerau many landlords cannot afford to make improvements so homes are old, cold, damp and left in disrepair.

The research paper looks at a wide range of housing issues affecting Tauranga City, Western Bay of Plenty, Whakatane, Opotiki, Kawerau, Rotorua and Taupo. Problems such as affordability, availability, suitability and quality were studied and recommendations made on potential roles and opportunities for Community Funders to make a positive impact.

New Focus Areas

BayTrust Chief Executive Alastair Rhodes says although affordable housing is a critical issue, the keys to resolving this largely rest with central and local government policies.

As a result of this research paper’s findings, the group will instead collectively focus on improving housing quality (particularly healthy housing) and providing more emergency short-term housing.

“Poor quality and unhealthy housing is a widespread issue across the Bay. Cold, damp houses create significant health issues and negatively impact the quality of life of families, it also particular affects children and older people,” Rhodes says.

“Meanwhile, the current pressures on the rental market and a lack of emergency short-term housing has resulted in an increasing number of people being homeless so there is a real need for temporary accommodation, particularly for women and children. These are issues where Community Funders in partnership with key government agencies, NGOs, iwi, councils and the community, can make a real and immediate difference.

“This research really highlights the need to collaborate and work together if we want to make a real difference. The issues are complex and different across the region, and there is no one solution.”

Significant Investment

In the last five years Community Funders have already invested nearly $9m across the region into housing. This has primarily been through insulation programmes, supporting housing developments and providing funding to organisations that work to help people find and stay in sustainable housing.

TECT Manager Wayne Werder has seen the difference that retro-fitting insulation in older homes can make. “TECT has been involved in home insulation programmes for a number of years. We know that warm homes make people healthier and save money.

“Commissioning this paper was the start of us of working more closely together on housing, and will help inform where we go from here.”