Housing stories – time to share at the Raglan Community House

Over the last couple of years, the Raglan Community House has been hearing an increasing number of unhappy housing stories from visitors to the centre.

Since 2016 when the ballooning housing bubble in Auckland precipitated a torrent of people cashing up and looking to the provinces for a cheap buy and a new place to live, housing prices have risen steadily. In Raglan, the median house price i.e. the price halfway between the most expensive and the cheapest house, was $515,000 in April 2017 (LJ Hooker), that price now, in 2018, is $660,000 (QVNZ).

When houses cost more to buy, other costs like rates also increase, and eventually this flows through into the cost to rent a home. In 2016 a family could rent a standard 3 bedroom home in Raglan for about $300 – 350/week, that price is now more like $400 – 450/week. Rent of $250 a week for a one bedroom 20m2 cottage is now considered ‘cheap’.

Affording a place to live in Raglan for many, is getting tougher.

The Raglan Community House decided it was time to see what could be done to help. A few coffees and some conversations with key community leaders later, and a new project to do just that was formed. WRAP – or the Whaingaroa/Raglan Affordable (Housing) Project – has been set up as a sub-group of the Raglan Community House and in March this year was successful in being awarded $40,000 from the WEL Energy Vital Impact (Housing) Fund to complete a research project into housing affordability for Raglan.

In order to raise the very significant amounts of money required to build housing solutions, the WRAP steering group know that they will need to convince central government, private investors and others to get involved. To do that, they will have to build a robust business case with very reliable data – how big the problem is, who is affected the most, what kind of solutions would work in Raglan and eventually, who would want to be part of creating a new way to have an affordable home and what would it all cost.

Data specific to Raglan isn’t easy to come by, so the grant from WEL Energy Trust is funding some extraction of information from big central databases and a specially designed householder survey that will be launched in a few months. It will try to ascertain how much the cost of rent or mortgage payments impacts on household finances, how does this affect stress levels in our community and how many people are affected. Watch this space for more on that later.

In the meantime, WRAP would also like to offer a place for people to come and talk about their housing affordability problems, how they are being affected and what they think might be good solutions. Mike Rarere, manager of the Raglan Community House, has teamed up with the project lead for WRAP, Fiona McNabb, to host some open days at the centre to talk housing. The first one will be on Tuesday June 26.

Mike and Fiona will be at the Raglan House at 45 Bow St all day from 9am – 5pm with plenty of tea and coffee, so please come and tell us your story.

Lisa Thomson, our ward counsellor and Fiona are also making a road trip to Wellington in late June for a Local Government NZ Housing symposium and a meeting with Neville Johnson, manager of Kiwibuild at the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment. WRAP have already shared some of Raglan’s housing issues with Housing Minister Phil Twyford and Mr Johnson, and want to be able to take some of your stories to Wellington to help illustrate the difficulties people are facing. This is a great chance to get central government on our side at a time when housing is right at the top of their agenda.

Lisa will be representing the Raglan Community Board who are also supporting her travel back from Wellington.

Mike and Fiona will be at the Raglan House at 45 Bow St all day from 9am – 5pm on Tuesday, June 26 with plenty of tea and coffee, so please come and tell us your story.