1 Jun 2014

Focus on Pasifika home ownership

9:57 am on 1 June 2014

A programme to tackle the lack of home ownership in the Pasifika community has been launched in Auckland.

The three-year Turanga pilot aims to identify and address the barriers that prevent many Pacific people from owning their own home, and 20 people will take part each year.

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Auckland deputy mayor Penny Hulse said almost half of Auckland's 200,000 Pasifika people lived in crowded households and were likely to have long-term debts.

"It impacts on children's health, on schooling - on education - and if we're going to make a fundamental difference to the future of our Pacific communities, it actually starts with good quality housing."

It would have a significant impact on their families and the wider community if they did not get on to the housing ladder, she said.

People in the Pasifika community had specific financial burdens, and Turanga would be tailored to their cultural needs, Ms Hulse told Sunday Morning.

"Ideas that they've got for how to stretch the dollar, particular stresses and strains that come on to them for cultural reasons and ideas that they've developed themselves.

"So the hope is that this project will then ripple out, with families teaching other families."

Turanga was not tokenism and would go a long way in improving the plight of Auckland's most impoverished communities, she said.

Telaki Taniela and his family were among those who pledged to commit to Turanga, handing over their financial details in return for a specially tailored programme.

"I think it's a dream for every family to have their own home - hopefully I'll get some ideas how I can save some money to get into a home."

Housing New Zealand, the Salvation Army and Auckland Council will help 60 families during the three years of the pilot programme.

Meanwhile, a non-profit housing provider is calling for more money for budgeting services so Pasifika and low-income families can be helped to buy their own homes.

The Housing Foundation is building more than 100 affordable homes as part of the Waimahia Inlet development in South Auckland.

But foundation spokesperson Lynne Pillay said it was hard to find Pasifika families who could get a mortgage to buy them.

"We just need more funding and more work put in to financial budgetting for families. I think it's the biggest game in town, particularly in areas like Auckland."

"Because they cannot afford to buy $800,000 or $900,000 homes. Even on $400,000-$450,000, we need to work with them on a shared home ownership package to get them into their first home."

There needed to be many more affordable homes built to help low income and Pasifika families, Ms Pillay said.

The Housing Foundation is also involved with the Turanga programme.