Never in our lifetime did I think we’d witness news stories telling us that the median Hastings house price was $699,204.
And, while some homeowners will be quietly celebrating their new-found wealth, for others in our community, the prospect of home-ownership slides further and further away.
There IS a silver lining to this housing crisis; it’s being driven by strong growth. In 2020, Hastings District Council’s building consents were the highest in 20 years.
But one thing’s certain; we will only succeed when our most vulnerable – those 800 people living in motels across Hastings district, not to forget the more than 630 people on the social housing waiting list – are adequately housed.
The health and well-being of our people is of primary concern. If we improve housing, we will all prosper.
That’s exactly what we’ve been doing. Tangible progress is already happening, thanks to the partnerships Hastings District Council has already forged with central government, developers, community leaders and iwi.
The Hastings Place Based Plan, the only pilot housing programme in the country that has all the agencies working together, has a plan to build 120 houses at Waingakau Village, at Te Aranga Marae in Flaxmere. By working with the iwi social services provider, Te Taiwhenua O Heretaunga, we’ve been able to produce co-housing that offers warm dry houses which embrace Māori community design.
Hastings District Council has also fast-tracked developments at 244 Flaxmere Avenue and the Flaxmere Town Centre after community consultation – but there’s much more that needs to be done if we are to improve the health and wellbeing of our people.
Central Government’s $3.8 billion housing package, announced in March, will go some way towards supporting many families who have been locked out of home ownership, particularly the caps lift for the First Home Grant from $400,000 to $500,000 for new build properties and $400,000 to $525,000 for existing properties. The increase to the Housing Acceleration Fund will also enable more Hawke’s Bay people to own property.
The housing package will give council the chance to deliver more homes for our people faster. Let’s not forget that medium density intensification in Hastings CBD, is crucial if we are to solve our housing problems while protecting the fertile soils of the Heretaunga Plains. We are talking with developers from around the city to redesign the city’s commercial buildings to residential apartments, which will also increase Hastings’s vibrancy.
The fact that there’s 2,500 homes to build in Hastings in the next 5–10 years is a start – but if the projected growth that the area is experiencing now continues – as more Kiwis discover that Hawke’s Bay is the best place in New Zealand to live and more expats return here having faced the rigors of Covid-19 in far flung shores – then much more will need to be done.
Future growth will be forged off the back of already well-established relationships with business, central government and iwi.
That work has already begun.