Hutt at Heart

Research highlights housing pressures in Lower Hutt

Recent Hutt City Council research has highlighted serious challenges around housing affordability and starkly shown how many households are struggling to house themselves and their families.

The research was commissioned as part of Council’s first stage in the development of a housing strategy and in preparation for a full review of Lower Hutt’s District Plan, which begins later in the year. The research was carried out by Community Housing Solutions and Livingston Associates.

Key findings include:

  • The number of households living in Lower Hutt is predicted to increase by 3530, or 9 per cent, between 2018 and 2038
  • Financial pressure on households has increased across the city. The most recently available figures show that in 2013, 82 per cent of private renters earning less than $50,000 spent more than 30 percent of their gross household income on rent. Some 40 per cent paid more than half of their gross household income on rent
  • Because a higher proportion of Māori are on lower incomes, they are disproportionately affected by housing stress and struggle with the increasing costs of housing
  • Poor housing affordability means the proportion of households living in their own homes will continue to decline over the next two decades
  • In 2018, 10,410 renter households in the city needed some assistance to meet their housing requirements. This number is projected to increase to by 28 per cent to 13,320 by 2038
  • Almost 90 per cent of renters cannot affordably purchase a house priced at $550,000
  • Lower Hutt’s aging population means one-person and couple-only households will see the strongest growth.

Hutt City Councillors were briefed on the report. Lower Hutt Mayor Campbell Barry says the report highlights the scale of the housing crisis in the city, and the work required to address it.

“Everyone in our city deserves to live in a warm, dry and safe home. Unfortunately we know that continues to be a challenge for many of our people as house prices and rents continue to rise.

“Our Council is committed to working within our community, with our regional colleagues, and with government to ensure that affordable housing is available to our people.”

Council’s Chief Executive Jo Miller says Lower Hutt’s population has seen sustained growth for the last four years, and managing this growth and its impact on housing affordability have long been identified as key planning challenges for Lower Hutt.

“But there is still a lot we can do. One of the challenges ahead is tackling housing affordability as a region. For instance, if we prove successful in dealing with housing affordability in Lower Hutt, it’s highly likely buyers will come from other parts of the region, as we’re seeing now, and that increased demand will push up prices once again.”

Council recently adopted a district plan change that allows for medium-density housing in several suburban centres close to public transport, shopping, parks and schools. It also reduces barriers to building minor dwellings, like tiny houses, and traditional infill. One of the key aims of the plan change is to address housing affordability and provide a wider range of housing types.

Council also, last year, developed a homelessness strategy, investing in services that focus on preventing homelessness. Council’s research on homelessness showed Māori whānau are over-represented in Lower Hutt’s homelessness statistics. Data on Lower Hutt households receiving emergency housing special needs grants for temporary accommodation in motels, during the second half of 2019, showed between 49 and 56 per cent of clients receiving grants each month were Māori.

Housing Demand and Need in Hutt City is available at: http://www.huttcity.govt.nz/housingresearch

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