Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst and chief executive Nigel Bickle

Hastings District Council has hugely increased its public housing stock and drastically reduced the number of people living in emergency accommodation with its Hastings Place Based housing approach, according to a report just delivered by Council’s chief executive Nigel Bickle.

The report notes that in its four years, the Hastings District Council-led cross-organisation plan has achieved outstanding results, including the number of people in emergency housing plummeting from 450 in 2019 to 66 at the end of 2023. 

Overall, 414 homes have been built, another 208 are under construction, and 509 are going through the consenting process. Importantly, of the homes built, more than 350 are social housing, affordable rentals, affordable first homes or papakāinga.

“There has been a huge amount of work done by Council and our partners – iwi, government, non-government and health organisations to get to where we are today,” Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said.

While happy with these results, Bickle noted there was still much to be done to achieve full social 

“One of the Mayor’s mantras,” he said, that is consistent with the strategy is, “we need houses, but houses become homes and homes shape communities’.”

“We don’t consider that there has across the majority of the housing developments been a deliberate approach to building neighbourhoods and communities and have some questions about the effectiveness of Kāinga Ora’s neighbourhood development/tenancy management.

From the outset, Mayor Hazlehurst has been adamant that new developments need to be inclusive and mixed – and encourage home ownership.

“By offering different options, we want to build communities and neighbourhoods with diverse populations covering ages, incomes and ethnicities. We must deliberately and thoughtfully address neighbourhood building, so we avoid doing what has been done in the past – segmenting people into housing developments that over time stigmatises the people who live there.

It is particularly relevant to government-supplied social housing.

It seems that traditionally, for all kinds of reasons, it has been easier to have social housing all built in one area, off one plan, but it is a very dated way of community building and does not look ahead to how the area will develop over the next 40-50 years.”

Hastings District Council is mooting that, with the immediate aim of getting people out of emergency housing all but achieved, it is time for a different way of thinking that will achieve the ‘diverse community aim’ in the plan. “If we look at other examples – papakāinga or trust models – they have families living next to elders, people renting in one house, neighbouring someone on a plan to buy their home.

“Between the Crown, Council and Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga, we have the land and, after four years of delivering the place-based plan, we have the experience. In the end, what we want is the very best outcome for all of our residents,” Hazlehurst said.

Other elements of HDC housing strategy include plan changes to allow for Recognised Seasonal Employer staff (1500 beds so far and counting) and to enable inner city living and greater housing density, the planning and construction of the infrastructure needed to service new housing areas, and essential repairs made to 40 existing homes whose residents include at-risk Tamariki.

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