CCC Long Term Plan Submission 2021


It doesn’t matter who you talk to in New Zealand, everyone will agree with you that shelter is the most basic and important issue that faces us in 2021. 

The New Zealand government as sent a very clear message that housing was a problem in its 2017 election campaign by committing to build 100,000 homes within 10 years.

In March 2021 the government changed a number of rules around housing tax regulations in an attempt to address the runaway housing market.

The media would have us all believe there is a ‘housing crisis’, we don’t agree.  Many New Zealanders don’t have a problem at all, the equity in their homes is ballooning, others have incomes that can sustain rising rents.  What we do have is a crisis for those on the bottom rungs of the housing ladder.

The Christchurch Probation Service and Salvation Army tell us, and we agree, that the single biggest driver of reoffending in New Zealand is housing.  When people don’t have good shelter many different things happen which end in crime. 

Under a previous government, a ‘war on drugs’ was declared.  This meant that Housing New Zealand tenants were evicted and not allowed to return, acceptable levels of methamphetamine contamination were set so low that many homes were closed, and massive amounts of money spent on remediation and testing. 

We believe that the net result was tipping ‘fringe tenants’ into the private market, where they declared was on landlords.  The private market push back was to tip a massive amount of housing stock into the short stay housing market, from which it will likely never return, while putting tenants in jail or on the streets.

A massive amount of damage has been done in all markets and is now going to take considered effort to repair.


It is our view that Christchurch City Council has a very significant role to play in the Christchurch market, which will also influence the national marketplace.

The council’s role must be to influence the bottom rungs of the ladder for the benefit for the wider community and play a role in protecting the private market from the ‘fringe tenant’ community who clearly need much more than a traditional “mum and dad” landlord, they need the combined resource of a council with a $400 million dollar housing resource and $13 billion dollar asset base.

The councils new Social Housing Strategy is to be commended.  It is a foundation stone by which council staff can be agile in their approach to making an extensive and positive impact for the benefit of the Christchurch and country wide community.

At present the council is being to ‘risk adverse’, not making enough use of civic resource, not trading in the market and not dedicating enough resource to supporting the community to improve the bottom rungs of the housing market.  It has ventured into unwise ‘pet projects’ while not engaging in reasonable market dynamics.

It’s our view that elected members have become so frustrated at the lack of action that they have been endorsing ‘borderline silly’ projects just to attempt to make a point.


Become Aggressive!

The council has to review every land asset it has and make more use of those assets to support housing.

Trade in the market.

It is not the councils role to become a major housing owner.  It is the councils role to influence the housing market to ensure that good housing exists for the benefit of its rate payers.  This means that council needs to: Buy up housing that is at end of life and redevelop such and then resell that asset back into the market, either directly or via partners.

The council must work with more partners in the “Community Housing Provider” (CHP) market.  It must seek out more CHP partners, built and rise up those partners.

It must deliver ‘competition’ in the Christchurch CHP market to keep OCHT and others accountable and competitive.

It must also ensure that the social housing market has more provider choice for the tenant community.

The council must borrow more money, more quickly, and deliver more housing and improvement to help address the current social housing waiting list (sitting at roughly 1,900 at time of writing)

The council must empower the community to join the journey.  We agree that social housing should be kept “off the rates budget”, but that doesn’t mean “kept from rate payer contribution”.  The CCC is a very mature, strong, powerful and stable civic entity.  It must use that security to the advantage of people who would like to invest into social housing but need the security of knowing that it is backed by a quality team of resources.

Stability in the rental market

Stability in the long term rental market is delivered by the availability of quality housing.

Some elected members, represent massive property holdings, may will see the council as competing with those interests, are they considering that without competition, they are not being held to account and their customers are now actively and aggressively attacking them via many vectors, costing every rate and taxpayer more.

The council needs to review the style of housing it delivers in its current program.  The OCHT CE tells us, and we agree, that the style of housing they have is not appropriate for a range of social housing tenants, specifically prison reintegration, but clearly not limited too.

The council must put in motion a project to invest in a range of housing solutions, one and two bedroom, 5 and 6 bedroom (which is where the highest demands are).  Some of this housing simply needs to be urgently purchased in the open market while others need to be build.

The council needs to become much more diverse in the range of borrowing it makes to fund such projects.  While it is ideal to borrow at OCR +25 base points (and sell to CHP’s at +40 base points), this is NOT acceptable in the market while also addressing the level of work that needs to be done and accepting the interests of a retail commercial banking sector that under pins most borrowing and property security in New Zealand at present.  Our view is that the council needs to be involved in at least $1.3 billion dollars of the market, that is to much to only load on the LGA fund and to much direct market influence in the banking sector.

The council still has to much property that is not being used quickly enough for the benefit of a growing community.  Our observation is that the council does not have enough resource on staff to effectively manage the level of resources it has, so those resources are sitting idle while some in our community sleep in cars and motels.

The council must recognise the importance that housing quality and presentation has on mental health.  In 2019 it took us months to have rubbish removed from the Poulson Street complex.  Some complexes still need cosmetic updates that are well over due.

The council must keep front of mind that while a typical council worker is gone from their home for 9 hours a day and elected members may be gone from their homes for much longer, social housing tenants may not leave their front door for days on end (which is more time inside than a prison inmate spends inside, even on full lock down).  Employers pay for keeping workers warm for 8 hours a day while workers only need to think about home heating for 12 hours a day (assuming time away from the home is not just spent working).  Complex social housing tenants must heat their spaces 24 hours a day.

While council has improved the heating choices for many it needs to grow the amount of housing stock more quickly, as our population grows and ages, than the current 100 units that OCHT has committed to at present.

Christchurch has a cold climate compared to Auckland or Northland.  However we also have a very much richer and wealthy community too, and more access to low cost energy.


In this decade we have to pivot in social housing.  As a council, you have the capacity to take a housing lead, influence and make a much more significant difference than you currently are. 

You are the city wide leader (if not the national leader) in housing complex development. 

Every new complex has to be installed with solar energy that offsets the power costs of every tenant.

Some complexes need to be designed with ‘complex heating’, that like a retirement home, keeps the entire complex at a living temperature no matter the actions of the tenant. 


At the time of writing there are more than 1900 on the social housing waiting list.  We understand this doesn’t mean that we actually need 1900 new homes delivered this next year.  We understand that some of these people need to be housed in flatting situations, making better use of existing stock.

However CCC needs a much more powerful leaver on the housing market in Christchurch to benefit the whole community, at present it doesn’t have that.  It does in transport, it does in power, it does in telecommunications, it doesn’t in housing, yet housing is the most important of all of those.

We have called for 8,000 total CCC social homes.  Given the city has 174,000 rating units, 65% home ownership nationally, and a growing population, we don’t think this is unreasonable.

We would like to see council raise up to $1 billion dollars in the market to support this vision.

CCC needs to build with more partners and build a more extensive range of products.  Not everyone wants to work with OCHT to work with CCC.  We believe that those working with OCHT also need employment choice while continuing to work with CCC.

CCC needs to urgently raise $400 million to support its building program in the current/next LTP term. 

CCC needs to target a “1000 bed per year” program in this LTP.  (That’s 10,000 beds over 10 years or a mix of 1, 2, 5 and 6 bedroom homes, which is where the current demand is.)


The over all goals and KPI’s of the council should be:

  • Make effective use of every asset our community has
  • Support the elected government objectives to provide a stable housing market by protecting the market from ‘fringe tenants’ (by spreading the burden of those folk equally across the whole community).
  • Deliver CHP/Social Housing Provider choice in the market
  • Keep rents stable by ensuring that rental tenants have a choice
  • Deliver a quality level that sets a city wide bench mark as the minimum standard that our community will accept for shelter.
  • Work with the commercial money markets to their benefit.

WHO ARE WE is a special interest website created by Don Gould and Stephen McPakie to present information to the community about Christchurch social housing.  It’s focus started with data from the Christchurch City Council but has grown to included others.

We have also presented a host of articles on market and data analysis with views on social housing in our city.

You should review our web site:

Exciting Social Housing In The North

This week Joanna and I caught up with Rhys Head from Homeco to have a look at his Iwi backed social housing project for Mana Waitaha Trust in Woodend.

Prefabricated in Homeco’s factory and assembled on site, these two and three bedroom homes are HomeStar 8 rated, ready for PV solar panels and with EV charger ready car ports.

Laminated timber from Nelson and overseas producers is prefabricated in to standardised panels. Rhys explained to us that he is keen to see a production plant for the chip wood paneling they use but first we have to establish a local market which is one of the goals for this factory.

The entire home is staged in the factory meaning that stakeholders (normally clients) can walk through the building and request changes before it’s even on the site.

The completed walls, on site, have an Energy Star rating of 8. R2.6 bats combined with a range of other materials to push the external structure to a very insulated construction with very limited internal air changes means that the heat you put into the home doesn’t escape, a concern for tenants with very limited income.

The entire home can be packed into a 20 foot shipping container. The benefit of this is creating the ability to ship the buildings around the country by rail or world by ship. These panels already have all the insulation installed.

On site, the roof is built, on the foundation slab, before the walls are delivered and then craned on to the erected walls. This means that the entire structure can be closed in within a day. The benefit is faster construction meaning lower cost while also making a nicer space for everyone to work.

Let’s Look Inside On Site

Massive amounts of storage, accessible bathroom, wide doorways for wheelchair access, power points for your EV charger, tiny heat pumps (because you just don’t need a bigger one!), large kitchens complete with dishwasher, fibre ready, high stand toilets and the most magical windows you’ve ever seen!

The double glassed windows on this build will be triple on the next construction. These windows are made from recyclable plastic so they’re warm to the touch. They open in two different ways (a video of this will be on the site next week), meaning that you can open them fully in summer when you’re home or peg them ‘ajar’ with confidence that the home is secure.

Rhys has a show room in the city with all the different building technology and construction plans on display. His passion is building homes that are kinder to people and the environment. For example you may have noticed that these social homes had car ports rather than locked up garages. He explained to me that is so that a garage doesn’t get transformed into someones ‘low quality bedroom’.

Started in July 2019 and completed to this stage by December 2019, these units are fast to build and finish which delivered a much lower cost meaning that much more value can be delivered for social housing tenants. Oh, and if you’re wondering about that plastic clip board in the top of the image, it’s not a clip board, but more about that in a future post!

Weekly Update #4 – Waiting and Mailing Lists

I have now installed a forms feature on the site which now lets us start to collect information.

I can see reason for two different lists


Not everyone who’s interested in social housing wants to be checking in on Facebook or the web site, so a mailing list is important.

I’m also keen to understand as much about people interesting in social housing, as I can. So I’m going to propose a mailing list that also lets you tell us a bit about yourself, or not! 🙂


In last years, last council meeting, we heard that there are 830 people on the social housing waiting list, but who are you? What are you looking for, what is your situation and where do you want to live?

So I’m proposing we’ll collect the following, or as much as you choose to share with us.

  • Name
  • Email address
  • Phone number

All of these will be optional… actually everything will be optional.

My plan is that I’ll simply qualify the quality of interest based on the level of information provided. Clearly someone who wants to give you all their information is serious about wanting something.

  • Required Bedrooms
  • Required Beds – we don’t assume that people need or want a bedroom each, but we want to know how many people you want to have living in a space.
  • Current suburb – we don’t know where you actually live, we’d just like to know where your community is.
  • Desired suburb – we assume that people have been moved around as a result of the earthquakes so we’d like to know where you’d like to live
  • Schooling – do you need to be close to a school?
  • Public Transport – do you need to be close to it?
  • Work Suburb – we want to understand where you need to travel to.
  • Drug use – this one’s quite important. Right now CCC have units that people have used drugs in, they simply need cleaning. The government standards have changed and for some people, they’d sooner have a more affordable home than where they are, so there is a case to argue that these units should be made available.
  • About you – age range, gender, health – if you’re 85 and in poor health then you need higher quality housing than I do. Double rather than single glassing and better heating, for example.
  • Current housing – we’re keen to understand people who are couch surfing, those who are simply unhappy with private accommodation or other reasons
  • Reason for your interest – as above, we’d like to know why you want social housing. We understand that in some causes what people really want is help to improve their situation but just don’t know where to reach. In this journey so far, Stephen and I have learnt a lot about services we didn’t know existed.

I’ll be posting this on Facebook, so I’m keen to hear your comments before we set this alight! 🙂

How Much Can I Borrow?

When you’re thinking about buying a home the question at the top of your mind is how much can you borrow and then how much should you borrow.

When you’re thinking about buying an investment property the only thing you’re thinking about is how much you can borrow.

The difference is because when you’re renting something out you’re earning money on the money you’ve borrowed, when you’re buying for yourself you’re just paying for what you’re living in so you want to consider the balance between lifestyle and paying down debt and growing equity.

This year I’ve spent a bit of time hanging out with the Williams Corporation team at their investment buyer evenings (I think I’ve been to three now!). One thing they point out is the value of borrowing as much money as you can because you can earn money on the banks money.

LVR rules mean you need at least 20% deposit for a new build unless you’re a first time home buyer and leveraging your Kiwisaver…. the council isn’t buying it’s first home.

The current rateable value of our social housing stock is over $325 million dollars so I’m keen to get busy and borrow some… how about $1.3 billion dollars?

On Sunday I had an interesting conversation with Anne Galloway, the city councilor for Halswell. Like many, she goes to pains to point out that we can’t fund social housing from rates. Frankly I’m at a bit of a loss why people keep prattling this comment and am feeling a bit white washed. I can’t help feeling that this whole social housing thing is a bit like an episode of “Yes Minister” and we’re all being played.

Not only should social housing not be funded from rates but it should also bring our city a large return.

I did some quick math…

I wondered how many units we could build if we borrowed everything we could and just asked Williams Corp to build for us (at their published book value). Of course we wouldn’t ask then to build at book value and we already have the free land, so we can’t factor that. So I pondered how many we could build if I took the current average unit value, but of course that number is no good either because it looks very much like most of our stock is over valued in the market given what we should be able to build for currently (though don’t tell the bank that because I want to use my existing stock to secure the loans!)

I decided that I should just factor the Williams Corp price, the current rent, cost of borrowings at councils 2.5% and as much money as I could borrow and figured out that we should earn $19.5m a year. That fixes the problem of finding funds to run the stadium!

Ok, so these are just scatter gun numbers because it leaves out so much information and makes to many assumptions, but it does make me wonder why we’re messing about and not getting busy with a massive building program to at least get us another 1,000 homes build withing the next 18 months!

In the mean time my wife flicked me a pdf link that she’d found while looking for something else, which is just full of enlightening reading. At first I was wondering what the heck it was all about but then it occurred that this isn’t just economic, it’s political too!

The council has been moving housing into a trust because it wants to be able to claim government assistance for tenants while giving the tenants lower rents. But council also has the ability to raise massive amounts of capital and the tax payer is paying the bill.

I haven’t read all the detail, but clearly lawyers at The Treasury are interested.

The other numbers I also considered is how quickly the council can pay off its borrowings. Our council is already very wealthy, Raf Manji expressed recently that CCC is worth $13b dollars.

I’m sure it’s an issue for some that growing our housing stock means growing the wealth of our council and currently we have an increasingly wealthy and powerful council.

I can’t help wondering how much of this is all about improving the quality of housing in our city and country v’s more scrapping about who’s budget stuff goes on… hummm…. those who know me know just how bothered I get about that issue!


How Are Elected Officials Informed?

OCHT Provided More Numbers! 🙂

This afternoon I got an email back from Bob Hardie, Senior Housing Advisor, Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust and then followed up with a quick phone call.

Stephen McPaike picked up that this list has units listed that were not in the spreadsheet that came from CCC last week (that was part of an information request by a candidate during the election process).

The question all this presents is, who actually knows how much social housing Christchurch has and how do elected members become informed?

Bob commented that they don’t report back to CCC, which is quite reasonable, and it occurred to me if OCHT are this willing to provide me with information then clearly they would do the same for CCC if they asked, it’s not like a count of housing is a secret!

I like Bob, he was easy to chat to and very informative.

I also asked about closed units and how long they stay closed. Bob explained that they aim for between 11 and 15 days, which I expressed is very reasonable. When I’ve turned over rentals in the past it can take a few weeks to clean things up and get them to a level you want to present.

Bob also explained that the trust has been trying to raise the level of quality in the unit stock as they turn them over, also seems very reasonable…. actually there wasn’t anything in our brief 10 minute conversation that I didn’t find reasonable.

We also talked about how the open and closed units are quite fluid as tenants change and that drug use in the units is one of the biggest challenges. That last one I can personally relate with having done a couple of meth decontamination’s.

So, while a very helpful conversation, I’m now left with more questions than I started with and pondering how elected officials can be expected to make planning choices when no one seems to have the full picture.

However, on balance, I also think we shouldn’t get alarmed about this as we have some reasonable rough idea and everyone seems to agree that we need more social housing. The only thing we don’t seem to agree on right now is if we’re moving fast enough and how we might move faster.