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WHAM solution part of Wellington housing strategy

A new Wellington Housing Affordability Model (WHAM) is one of the more innovative of 30 solutions designed to address housing affordability, availability and quality in the capital over the next 25 years.

The Wellington City Council housing strategy, released on 15 June, will include a mix of temporary housing, short- and long-term rentals and home ownership. The 30 solutions also include a $5000 rates remission for first home builders, opportunities to turn underused buildings into affordable central city apartments, and making the process of applying for a building consent easier.

It is estimated that up to 30,000 new homes will be needed by the year 2043.

Wellington City Councillor and Housing Portfolio Leader Brian Dawson says the WHAM model looks at what households can afford for housing costs after a “basket of goods” of living costs is taken into account.

“This is different from the usual understanding of affordability, which tends to start from the point of view of what the average person in any given town or city is willing to pay,” says Dawson

“The problem with the usual understanding of affordability is that as demand for housing goes up, so does the dollar value around affordability.

“We’ve developed a model that is more equitable, and realistic. It’s going to help us better target our finite resources at a local level.”

The WHAM model is currently being tested by external peer reviewers include Sense Partners economists Shamubeel Eaqub and Dr Kirdan Lees.

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester says the proposed Housing Strategy takes into account the fast-growing city population, and a variety of issues, including earthquake resilience.

“Homelessness is an urgent issue and, at the same time, so is student accommodation, the quality of rentals and whether or not people can afford to buy their own home.”

The proposed Housing Strategy, which has been welcomed by Government, follows 18 months of work by officers, councillors and community groups. It will be considered by Council’s City Strategy Committee on Thursday 21 June.

The full list of housing action plan initiatives includes:

· District Plan review

· Urban Growth Plan review

· National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity

· Strategic Housing Investment Plan

· Urban Development Agency

· Stebbings Valley Structure Planning

· Proactive new build on Council land

· Special Housing Areas

· Rates remission for first-home buyers

· Consenting improvements

· Wellington Housing Standard

· Earthquake-prone Building Policy review

· Earthquake check and earthquake-prone building support

· Unreinforced Masonry Initiative

· Warm Up Wellington insulation retrofit project

· Home Energy Saver

· Neighbourhood grids

· City Housing portfolio

· Central government partnerships

· Non-government partnerships

· Central city apartment conversions

· Te Whare Oki Oki

· Housing trends monitoring

· Te Mahana – Homelessness Strategy

· Preparing for an aging population

· Framework for a Child and Youth Friendly City

· The CBD Community – vertical neighbourhoods

· Building strong and resilient communities

· Sustainable food network

· Participatory community co-design