24 Aug 2011

Far North needs social housing investment - Maori trust

7:23 pm on 24 August 2011

A Far North Maori trust says the region is crying out for investment in social housing.

He Korowai Trust has saved more than 200 homes from mortgagee sales in the last five years.

It has just been awarded an ASB grant of $450,000, to set up a homelessness prevention unit.

Manager Ricky Houghton says the trust would like to be helping low-income people into their own homes, but most don't qualify for bank loans.

He says He Korowai has come up with a model to get a family into its own three-bedroom house on Maori land for just $75,000.

But he says he can't find a backer for the scheme and government funding has not been available.

However, Housing Minister Phil Heatley says the government's new Social Housing Unit may be able to help out.

He says the fledgling unit is keen to hear from all social housing providers, including iwi, who have proposals for affordable homes.

Mr Heatley says the government has budgeted $40 million for rural housing, with $8 million set aside for housing on Maori land.

He says He Korowai's scheme could well qualify for funding.