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The cost of housing was considered to have become more unaffordable since 2020. Increased demand for housing was driven by new people moving to the area, as well as people returning to the area.

"It's difficult. It's getting worse. People just don't have the funds or ways to actually buy a house here. Maybe 10 years ago they would have because the housing here was really cheap. But you've got Aucklanders, you know, people like that, coming in and buying it all up. So that leaves people around Taumarunui unable to purchase a home. But it’s not their fault because there isn’t really jobs here for them to be able to do that, or even, community groups. I thought one of the community groups was helping with housing with funding and stuff, but they're not now."
"People are coming back. A lot of it is that overcrowded homes now, because they're moving home, it's cheaper to live back here than in the cities. Transports cheaper, everything's a bit closer. There's a lack of housing available."
"We bought our house seven years ago and when we bought our house everything was cheap. We went overseas, came back, bought a house. That was seven years ago and there was quite a few coming back, buying houses and buying land. Now, a couple of years after we brought our house for $36,000, a three bedroom house for $36,000, and two years later, then all the houses just went up by $30,000. "

Rental demand was high, with concerns held that rentals were inaccessible due to cost, but also due to homeowners being unwilling to rent out their houses, particularly to younger people, and overcrowded houses were considered more prevalent due to unaffordability and unavailability of houses:

"But the worst is, I think, is when I'm talking to all these young families that are renting, they've got to be overcrowded because there's nowhere for them to rent and if they want to live here, then they have to be overcrowded. There are none available, and the houses that are there, nobody wants to rent them out. In our area there are seven houses there that are empty and the people than own them don't want to rent them out. They are scared that it’s going to get damaged, they’d rather leave them empty."
"It costs more to renovate them and stuff. So you're sitting there going, if there is seven (empty) houses my area, I would hate to think what it is in central, and north, and hospital."
"But they won't rent them, and it's not trying to be stereotypical, but they won't rent them because tis a generation of those that haven' been shown how to look after their properties so they don't look after them potentially, and these owners are too scared to rent them out because that's their ... their wellbeing as well."
"I think rent in Taumarunui is expensive, so for young people to be able to go out and rent a house, they're going to have to think about it and have more in the house in order to be able to afford their own home which isn't really cool at all. It's too dear. About six to seven years ago it was about that time you could have a young couple move into a house and afford it but now you can't. Now you can't. And it's causing other issues because they're overcrowding, their health, their wellbeing and health problems. We struggled to find people for a rental about that time. It was empty for eight or nine weeks, and it wasn't because we were being picky, it was because there wasn’t people available."
"But with the rental for the young workers, because I have a lot of them, all full time. And for us to get them a rental I have to call the real estate and guarantee that they get their rent paid through our pay roll. So their rent gets paid straight out of payroll to make sure for them to get a house, otherwise we would not get workers. If we don't do that guarantee they won't take the young ones. And we have three full-timers in one house and we direct pay the real estate. Even though this is three full-time working people in the one house. Our owners believe in our staff so they're prepared to do that for their staff."
"Yeah. I just want to put a point out here is that we have so many young people who just couch surf and they're working. They are full time workers and they can't rent anywhere so they're living on Aunty's and Nan's couch. Or in those huts."
"And they're getting up the next morning to go to work and these are working individuals and they deserve to have somewhere to live. And it's just not somebody's couch. And nobody will rent to them and the reason is they're too young. I won't rent to you because you're not old enough. You know? And they've got full time jobs. And um, like, when you look around at all these buildings, all these shops that aren't being let? You're thinking, come on, somebody. Somebody. Get in there!"

Notwithstanding the observations of housing shortages, concerns were held about the potential impacts of increases in emergency or social housing in the area:

"Is it true that they're shifting all the people in emergency housing from Rotorua to Taumarunui because they need their tourism back up and running?"
"I don't know."
"This is what the guy at the fence told me. So I was like, "really?""
"Is that a concern that others have, about emergency housing?"
"Yes! They're bringing people into our community, and we need to look after our own before looking after anyone else’s."
"I'm just out at Manunui and there are four affordable homes that have been put out there. They're going to be renovated. They've put three in and there's another one to come in. And they're affordable homes, through... the Council? I don't know what part. But I was talking to a neighbour and they sold up everything in another town because the neighbourhood that they were in had emergency housing and the crowd that came there wrecked everything in that area, so they moved out and came down here. Because it's peaceful and there is better living up here. And I can't blame them for coming up here, it's quiet. And that's it. They've come for peace and quiet. And a lot of people don't want to see too many houses."

Participants noted that there were some houses being built in the area, but these were not houses that would necessarily contribute to a better rental pool:

"Down from Taringamotu there, though, lots of houses have gone up. But they're more sort of lifestyle blocks. People that could afford them. Retired people, yeah. And that's just in the past five years. And just past the marae there the houses are just going, up, boom, boom, boom. Retired people from off the farms, brought the sections, built the houses. "

Participants noted that some people wanted to add small scale housing, such as cabins or tiny homes, to their properties but felt restricted by various bureaucratic or cost barriers:

"Same with the consent, so if you want to put something in your back yard, say with the kids moving home you get charged double rates, so even with housing and stuff, even if you think, oh I’ll just put a cabin out the back, you'll get hit with double rates. It's disgusting especially when it's your own land and you’re already paying rates."
"If it’s just sitting there though, not plumbed in, you don’t get charged the double rates. Though it depends on the size. Anything bigger than ten by ten."

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