A petition with over 400 signatures asking Kāinga Ora to immediately purchase land and construct new permanent rental accommodation in Kāpiti for all groups affected by homelessness was presented to Otaki MP Terisa Ngobi on Parliament grounds last week.
“We’re sick of hearing excuses,” says Donna Bridgeman who along with other homeless Kapiti Coast residents organised a petition calling for the government agency Kāinga Ora to start building houses now.
“Our hotels are full of people that don’t have access to housing. Our boarding houses are overflowing and people have nowhere to go,” says Donna. “This is a crisis and we need people to be treated with dignity, and the only way that can be achieved is for the Government to acknowledge the need in our community and actually do something about it.”
The Kapiti Coast has one of the lowest numbers of social housing in New Zealand, with only 1% of houses being social housing compared to the national average of around 4% of total households.
Councillor Rob McCann who held the Housing Portfolio on the Kāpiti Coast District Council says, “One in four private renters are paying more than 50% of their household income in rent and only 5% of renters could affordably service a mortgage down from 21% in 2001. Our housing market has seen house prices increase nearly four times faster than household incomes from 2001 to 2021, and rents have increased 40% faster than household incomes.”
“That’s why our council initiated a housing programme which included a Housing Needs Assessment that found that the housing stress in the district was even more extensive than we thought and was having a domino effect on wellbeing.
“The severe housing issues in our community, combined with the criminally low supply of social housing, mean our housing problems are being amplified and increasing numbers of people are finding themselves without any options, says Mr McCann. While our council has moved quickly from just having a regulatory role in housing, we are trying our best to enable private developers and social housing providers to set up in Kāpiti, but we also need Kāinga Ora to step up and take drastic action.”
Donna Bridgeman agrees. “Councils don’t have the bank balance to fix this problem, only the government does. The government agencies need to purchase land now and get building. We’re not interested in excuses or promises. We just want the decision makers to do their job and build something now so that young people, families with children, retirees and renters that are forced out of their accommodation are not forced to live in motels.”