Mark Southcombe

There is a generation of New Zealand lower middle-income earners struggling for adequate housing access.

These are the lower middle-income earners above social housing thresholds. In many places in NZ the labour needed to accumulate the capital required to purchase housing is beyond the point where ownership is practically accessible to working couples without inherited capital. They are caught in a cycle where they spend a disproportionate amount of their income to access housing and many are reliant on housing subsidies.

This is a symptom of an increasing wealth inequality in New Zealand society. The housing affordability crisis brings with it an increasing social divide not seen since the industrial revolution.

Co-Housing has an important role to play here collectively and directly purchasing housing at significantly lower costs. Collective Urban Housing is significantly more affordable. Cutting the developer, the profit margin, and any marketing costs reduces the cost of an apartment in Berlin by 25 to 30 percent for higher quality more diverse apartments.

While developer driven apartments are usually designed for a notionally average user, the members of a building group are able to define their needs and incorporate these in the design process. The result is a home tailored to specific needs... and a higher quality built environment. This is an attractive vision. Everybody wins except the poor developers... who see market share drop and need to engage with Co-housing building groups as new clients.

In a future post I will discuss the market and the opportunity for government to initiate and support mixed social sustainable mixed rental and ownership cohousing.