Council funding options for the affordable housing initiative will be explored


The Waikato Regional Council will explore ways to inject funds into an affordable housing initiative proposed by the philanthropic organization Momentum Waikato.

At the August 25 meeting, advisors learned that through its impact investing strategy, Momentum Waikato is seeking to invest in affordable housing.

The initial focus is particularly on areas where a need is identified and where there is alignment with documented Waikato Housing Initiative housing shortages in the region.

In 2019, the Waikato Housing Initiative undertook a regional housing inventory based on 2018 statistical information. It found a regional deficit of 7,500 housing units and a projected need for an additional 51,000 units by 2043.

The report also identified that the median house price, at more than six times the median household income, is considered “extremely unaffordable”. By December 2021, median house prices had risen to 9.6 times median household incomes.

With Kāinga Ora responsible for national social housing needs, there remains an opportunity for affordable housing, councilors heard. To achieve this, Momentum Waikato is proposing a community investment fund that would invest in affordable housing.

To support the initiative, Momentum Waikato is seeking an initial contribution of $10 million from the Waikato Regional Council as a “cornerstone” investment. Depending on the form of this financing, a minimum return of 3% would be guaranteed, said Kelvyn Eglinton of Momentum Waikato.

“Housing is a catalyst for economic growth,” Mr. Eglinton said. “Affordability is the biggest opportunity and deliberate initiative is needed in areas of the Waikato region where people can manage a mortgage.”

He said an injection of funds from Waikato Regional Council will in turn attract other investors to enable an affordable housing fund for those in need, with provisions to ensure housing is not sold for profit. .

Councilors learned that council investment could take the form of a grant to establish the fund or support the project; a loan to support the project; or blended finance to support a project.

Two potential sources of council funding could be considered, councilors heard – the Regional Development Fund established in 2015 to support projects of regional importance that promote regional economic development and are carried out in a way that also improves outcomes environmental, social and cultural, or direct investment in the Community Impact Fund through the Council Investment Fund.

Councilors voted in favor of funding Momentum Waikato as a concept and asked staff to further explore a pathway to contribute to a community impact fund.

A report on the results of the survey will be presented to Councilors during the new triennium.

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