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Special Housing Areas: A practical pathway to livable homes?

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New Zealand has faced significant housing unaffordability issues since the early 2000s, with the 2017 Demographia Survey identifying eight NZ cities as having serious unaffordability concerns.

A range of factors have contributed to this, including regulatory processes, infrastructure development delays, and restricted land supply. The government has responded by introducing Special Housing Areas (SHAs) under the 2013 HASHAA Act, aiming to accelerate housing development. Historically, NZ’s approach has been demand-focused, with subsidies like the Accommodation Supplement. Internationally, mixed strategies addressing both supply and demand have been employed. This paper specifically studies SHAs in Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty, one of NZ’s fastest-growing yet least affordable regions, examining the establishment, operation, and outcomes of SHAs. The overarching goal is to determine if SHAs lead to both affordable and liveable homes, as part of a broader research project on improving New Zealand’s housing and urban landscapes.

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