Housing survey: Why do we all need to fill this in?

This morning there was another desperate plea on Raglan Noticeboard for a place to rent. The house this family are in is suddenly up for sale.

They are great tenants, run their own small online business and have employers in town who would be devastated to lose them. After living in Raglan for 20 years, if they can’t find anywhere to live they will have to move out of town or split the family up leaving the Dad living in his van to carry on working and commute to see each other.

This is just one of many heart wrenching pleas that appear on the Noticeboard almost on a weekly basis. Property prices too high for people on an average income to buy, the cost of rent rising, and the loss of rental housing stock are all factors. On the other hand, landlords looking to get into the rental market even with a decent deposit, can no longer make the numbers work, the gap between mortgage payments, rising rates, maintenance and rent income is too big when the median house price for Raglan is $660,000 and rising.

As a community, do we stand and watch this happen or do we try to do something about it?

It’s a big issue and it needs some creative solutions and serious investment. We don’t know what the solutions could be so we have to start with finding how big the problem is. Then we need to find what an affordable solution looks like for those who need a place to live, and then go out and find the money to create that.

Early discussions with central government and our local District Council look really promising but they need numbers and facts and figures so they can understand exactly what it is we need, and then start talking money and solutions.

Bob MacLeod, Chairperson for the Raglan Community Board says that “The Community Board fully supports this survey. It will give us essential data that we can feed into Raglan Naturally (the community plan), and use to influence District Council understanding of our community priorities”.

The housing survey gives us a one shot chance to find out what proportion of our community is really struggling with the cost of housing or finding a place to live. How many people are having to live in a crowded house or in a sleep-out, how many are choosing to go tiny because there’s no hope of buying or renting something bigger, how many people are feeling stressed about their housing situation and how stressed they are (not much? Or so much that it’s affecting their health?).

So, if you saw the article in last week’s Chronicle about a housing survey and you’re thinking, “why do we need one?” or “why should I fill that in?”, then maybe pause and think again. If you aren’t struggling with a housing issue, you are still part of the story.

If we all fill it in, we will have a powerful story to tell those who have the means to help us.

If we don’t, we are just standing and watching as people who may have called Raglan home for decades have to pack up and leave town.