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Participants felt there was reasonable demand for housing, but low availability of housing to rent or own in Ōhura.

"…we had to go looking for a house and I found a house about… three weeks before we had to get out, to rent, and thankfully we found a house because it’s hard, it’s hard to get a house to rent out here. "

Similar to 2020, residents of Ōhura again expressed considerable frustration that houses were standing empty and unused for various reasons, including difficulty obtaining permission to access houses, a general mistrust of tenants, and the costs of upgrading houses to meet the required rental housing standards:

"I was looking around and I asked about some houses on farms, but they are on farmland and they are there for when the farmers have people that come through and do work on the farm, so I believe those houses are there for that purpose. Buildings that aren’t being used anymore, I don’t know what it would take to turn them into housing? "
"It is really, really a tough journey and every time you pursue something there seems to be blockages. Across from the school is a perfectly good house that anybody could move into […] we have just been blocked, blocked, blocked, and it’s a total waste, because it’s available and it’s not derelict at all, it needs a bit of an upgrade and those sorts of things, but there’s a possibility for a family to live there right now if something can be done about it."
"There are lots (of houses) but talking farmers into it is the problem. There’s a beautiful brick one that never gets rented. It gets painted, but still they don’t rent it. I found out that they are worried that tenants will get big ugly dogs that will kill their sheep, or grow dope, or do P. People trash them."
"There are quite a few farms with properties on them, but they have to upgrade as well, so that’s another thing. It’s not worth it for them in the end."
"Why are there people living in a tent? Why can’t they go and live in a house that doesn’t have a healthy homes standard? Because the government will not let us rent those houses out. It’s so unfair. And I can talk from experience. We’ve had to do one up and it’s going to cost us 25 grand for this house we have, it’s better than my own home which is not up to the healthy homes standard. I’ve never lived in a healthy homes standard home. Where am I going to find the 25 grand to pay for that? The rent’s never going to pay for that. So it’s a big roll-on effect. Come on government, drop this healthy homes shit. If people are willing to live in… There’s 10 houses there that are empty! A couple of them you’d say, OK, that needs some work done on them, but half of them, I’d live in them. They’re not bad houses, they’re empty and they’re only going to get worse."

People were concerned that unused houses eventually became derelict:

"On the same side of the street there’s properties there, those houses are derelict, but this is how it started. The house being left and nobody moving into it. We have had so many requests for purchasing those and doing the demolishing and putting up smaller houses, but just being blocked the whole time. And those houses could be filled with people, with children."

Participants noted that the cost of achieving a healthy homes standard was prohibitive for some, and that therefore many residents in the area were living in substandard housing:

"We’ve got people living in conditions, they’re awful. We’ve got people living in tents, things… they should not be living in. Not their own fault; it’s just that that’s all the money in the world they have, that’s the best they can do and there’s no houses they can move in to."

Increased forestry in the area was considered to have had an impact on housing availability and quality too, although others noted that some of the forestry blocks had subdivided off and sold houses from farms which had been converted to carbon farms:

"Forestry come up and buy all our big stations and they don’t maintain the houses."
"Some of the forestry blocks will subdivide off the houses. They take off a bit of the land around it and sell it off. Which is good. At least that’s something, and it might bring in someone who wants a bit of land as well. "

The demand for housing was considered to comprise of a mix of new people moving to the area, but also from,

"…extra family. A lot of people have family who come home. Wanting to come back with their kids… They’re working but it’s just, there’s nowhere for them to come to. They’ve got nowhere else to go."
"People are moving to this area every month, if not every week. They’re living in the abandoned sections, woolsheds, caravans, cars."

Housing, in particular rents, were becoming unaffordable in Ōhura with house prices increasing significantly in the last three years:

"The price of everything has gone up, even the rent […] Because the cost of petrol going into town for sports etcetera, it’s the same price as a mortgage, the same price as rent. And these are all the things that I feel like, people looking for housing out here also need to think about how they are going to pay their rent and support their families and pay their electricity fees."
"What are rents now, $350? Oh! They never used to be. Top rent here used to be $100, $120? Buying a house has gone through the roof. That’s just sky-rocketed since COVID."
"Compared to the rest of New Zealand it’s considered cheaper but… everyone’s moving out of the cities. They’re moving out of the cities and it’s cheaper out here and you know, around this area so that’s skyrocketed all the prices. "

The increased number of ‘tiny homes’ was noted, although as in 2020, one participant considered that it was still difficult to get appropriate consents to have them:

"We’ve got tiny homes popping up which is really good for us as a community but we sort of get hiffed by the Council badly on it. Council, when you ring them, say, “When you park your caravan for more than three months you must have a foundation consent,” and that’s through the main line. And after that you’ve got to have consent for wastewater and consent for toilets and the foundations and resource consents and you’re basically skint. They’ll scare you off the phone just for parking a caravan."
"It's also rates - if you have another property on your property, or something that can function as a… then your rates are doubled as well. "

Finally, similar to 2020, residents of Ohura found it difficult to obtain trade services to do repairs and maintenance on their houses meaning maintenance was often delayed:

"There’s not much general labour out here. If you just sort of need something done it’s quite tricky to find someone to turn up. "
"We’ve been waiting for a builder for a year and a half. "
"If we have to get an electrician to the farm, it’s automatically $100. So we wait until there are about six things to fix in a day. We wouldn’t be like, oh let’s call an electrician because we need this thing fixed. "

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