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Salient. Victoria University Students Newspaper. Volume 38, No 1. March 4, 1975

Housing Students

page 4

Housing Students

Anthony Ward reports on some more of his mad-cap ideas.

In an article on accommodation in Salient August 7 last year I noted the problems facing students and others trying to obtain accommodation in the central Wellington area. This year the situation has not improved any - as the queues at the University's Accommodation Service and the overcrowding that now appears to be the normal state of many flats show.

The problem is caused by two opposite movements. More people are moving into central Wellington to work, or attend University. Some e.g. married couples, who previously would have been moving into the suburbs are at the moment forced to stay in flats as they cannot find the finance necessary to buy their own homes. This increase in demand is met with a decrease in supply. Building prices are such at the moment that without charging exorbitant rents it is not worth the landlord's time and investment building flats. As other houses deteriorate, or, as in the case of Buller Street, are 'redeveloped' by the motorway, there are fewer places around to rent.

What can be done in this situation? There is clearly a need for more accommodation, but there is no prospect of this being provided by the open market. Consequently Government action of some sort is required.

The University Grants Committee has a policy of subsidizing student accommodation (in hostels or complexes of flats as at Everton Tce). This subsidy used to be at a rate of just under $3 000 a bed, which is now under review as it is clearly inadequate in view of present building costs. There is however a large difference between the costs of traditional hostels and flatting complexes. At present estimates it appears that the cost per head in a hostel is around $7 500, while in flatting complexes it works out around $5 000 per head. As some of the cost will have to be raised by mortgages, thus affecting the rents, the second is a more attractive proposal. Add to this the fact that many hostels in New Zealand are in serious financial difficulties (all three major Vic hostels made losses last year. Weir's totalling some $25 000. Other, smaller, hostels such as Stuart Williamson have been forced to close down) and it would seem that flatting complexes are a far better idea.

A major cost in any development is the cost of land. Especially in central Wellington, prices have soared over the last few years, making the cost burden of any scheme all the heavier. The University does have some land designated for housing purposes under the town plan and if this could be used it would be one way of reducing costs.

Photo of a house being torn down

Considered here is the two acre block in the Salamanca Road/Claremont Tce area. This area, and the boundaries of the University's designation are shown in the map. At present the land, which is all on Hospital Board lease, is used for a variety of purposes. Some is now used by the University for the Sociology Department and three houses are used by Weir House. Other houses in the block comprise private dwellings and one the Japanese embassy. As the Sociology Department is planned to move into Von Zedlitz shortly (see the story on the [unclear: ing] Programme on page 8), space will hopefully shortly be available. If this scheme, or a similar redevelopment, is approved, then the University could acquire the lease of properties as the present occupiers move out.

Floor plan of a house