Ōpōtiki’s Housing Crisis – hope on horizon
With just 20 properties and 2 rentals currently on the books in the Ōpōtiki district, it is clear to anyone in the market for a rental or a house of their own, that there is a housing crisis in Ōpōtiki.
Ōpōtiki’s Mayor Lyn Riesterer, said many people had met with her or been in touch with other councillors talking about just how little housing there was in town. Most estimates show Ōpōtiki needs more than 50 houses a year for the next ten years just to deal with the current undersupply and to house any newcomers to the area.
“We have been hearing about New Zealand’s housing crisis for a long time now and what we usually hear about is Auckland or Wellington – the big cities with huge numbers and massive housing issues of their own. For example Auckland needs 320,000 houses in the next 30 years.
“But Ōpōtiki has exactly the same issues. In fact, on a per capita basis, our crisis is much deeper. Our headline numbers don’t look as startling as those for Auckland, but it has exactly the same impact on lives and wellbeing in our community. It means overcrowding and several families in one house or living with parents, or people living in terrible conditions just to have a roof over their heads.
“Council has a key role to play in making sure we have all the right people in the room, talking about how we can solve this together,” Mayor Riesterer said.
Ōpōtiki District Council’s role has been to ensure an easy-to-navigate regulatory environment, a District Plan that looks to encourage housing development through zoning, and careful infrastructure planning for growth coming online through many central-government funded projects such as the harbour development. Council has also been meeting regularly with other key agencies such as the Ministry of Social Development, Kāinga Ora, Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board, and Te Puni Kokiri.
“It has been really reassuring to see that other government agencies are engaged and involved with us and are willing to put some innovative ideas on the table. At a recent meeting, Kāinga Ora clearly understood the challenges we are facing around affordable and social housing and they committed to 20-30 additional houses within the next 18 months.
“This is in addition to upgrading Kāinga Ora housing stock that is here, great new developments like Pirirākau Ōpōtiki, smaller scale developments and one-offs, we can start seeing way forward to get our housing stock where it needs to be to meet the transformative change on our doorstep,” Mayor Riesterer said.