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Whistler-style affordable housing scheme proposed for Queenstown

An innovative, new form of home ownership and restrictions on Airbnb are among proposals to resolve Queenstown's affordable housing woes.

A mayoral taskforce is recommending the Queenstown Lakes District becomes the first in New Zealand to adopt a Whistler-based style of affordable housing known as Secure Homes.

Taskforce chairman John MacDonald said the model would see the land and house value split with the land being rented to the home owner. The land would stay in community ownership in perpetuity and the value of the house would be capped at a CPI rate.

"If people want to move out or trade to another house in the market then that gets offered back to approved buyers."

The model would not affect values in the market and would offer stability to the householder. However, it did mean they would not receive the capital gains many New Zealanders anticipated from their home ownership investment.

Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust executive officer Julie Scott said she did not think it would turn people off the scheme.

"Now we've got 480 households on our waiting list. They are desperate for some sort of affordable, secure housing. The options at the moment are either rent and pay their $750 a week or buy into an entry level priced house of $800,000.

"Most of them . . . are stuck renting at these high prices. So this is a great option that enables them to get into their own house."

Mayor Jim Boult said he established the Housing Affordability Taskforce earlier this year to find solutions to what he believed was probably the largest issue facing the district.

"Employers keep telling me how difficult it is to employ good people simply because . . . of the cost of housing."

Housing affordability had been a documented problem in the district since 1972 and the district was now the least affordable in New Zealand.

Taskforce chairman John MacDonald said the group was acutely aware it did not want to have a negative effect on the current market.

A key goal was to have 1000 homes in the new model in 10 years.

About 60 per cent would be Secure Homes and 40 per cent would be affordable rental offerings owned in perpetuity by the trust.

The land for the homes would come from land contributed by Special Housing Areas and inclusionary zoning – whereby agreements are reached with developers and landowners seeking zone changes to contribute a percentage of their development to the trust.

Another proposal is for a Shared Home Equity Product, which would see private investors provide 90 per cent of funding for a house, with the householder paying 10 per cent.

The householder would pay monthly for a Licence to Occupy but can choose to sell the house or convert to freehold ownership, earning up to 75 per cent of the change in market value.

MacDonald said it would cater to another segment of the market.

"The sort of people we are looking at for this is those with good jobs and a reasonably good income but the [home ownership] hurdle is too high. It's a way for them to get into the open market."

The taskforce is also recommending that the Queenstown Lakes District Council adjust its visitor accommodation settings.

It says Airbnb alone is making up about 14 per cent of total visitor accommodation capacity and the council should consider ways to incentivise people to rent long-term to the local workforce instead of to short-term visitors.

It wants the council to consider making more of its own land available for affordable housing, including the Lakeview site.

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