The new-look Labour Government Cabinet has a fresh opportunity to deliver on its commitment to beat the national housing shortage, and to build back better from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, announced the makeup of her new Cabinet yesterday after signalling her government would build upon the work of last term with a sharp focus on the pandemic.
Åtautahi Community Housing Trust chief executive, Cate Kearney, congratulates a pair of Christchurch MPs whose work she believes will be central to the Covid-19 recovery, especially around housing.
Wigram MP, Megan Woods, retains the Housing portfolio, and Christchurch East MP, Poto Williams, is Associate Minister of Housing (Public Housing).
“To have two Christchurch MPs in such key housing positions is positive for the City, Trust and residents,” says Ms Kearney. “The Prime Minister has already identified the Housing portfolio as an important part of the Covid-19 response and the need to ‘build back better’.”
Ms Kearney says having these two very capable and hardworking Christchurch MPs in key housing roles is significant because “they both get it.”
“Minister Woods understands the important role community housing providers play in the drive to build more social housing, and the need to do that quickly. Having had associate ministerial roles in Social Development and Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Associate Minister Williams also appreciates the housing needs here,” she says.
Community housing was part of the last government’s plan to get more New Zealanders into housing, and Cate Kearney says the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic is “a core critical consideration as we plan for the future”.
“The pandemic and resulting joblessness and unemployment, threaten to worsen the social and economic conditions that make community housing a necessary safety net for hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders. As Christchurch grows and our population ages, the demand for affordable housing is increasing,” she says.
The most recent advice from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development says more than 1200 applicants are on the public housing register in Christchurch.
“Community housing is a necessary part of the social response to the pandemic and, done well, it could be a significant part of the economic response as we build back better, and sustainably,” Cate Kearney says.
The two Christchurch-based MPs will join Associate Minister of Housing (MÄori Housing) Peeni Henare and Associate Minister of Housing (Homelessness) Marama Davidson.
Ms Kearney says the ÅCHT team is looking forward to continuing to build on the exceptional work already completed, and currently underway, across Christchurch.