Mass rally in Wellington pressures Government to extend income-related rent subsidy to council housing tenants

Around 100 people rallied in the capital on Saturday to call on the Government to extend the income-related rent subsidy to council housing tenants.

Rosie Ngakopu was one of them and has lived at the Te Ara Hou Apartments for 13 years.

"I put a lot into this place, my heart, my soul," she says.

Despite that love one day she hopes to leave.

"I want to move out of here and be a first-home buyer, I want to take my son and secure a home for him and a future for him."

But that's not easy for her.

"I push myself to work 60-70 hours a week just so I've got enough to pay the rent."

And the rent is something her and a church full of people think should change.

The income-related rental subsidy fixes rents for low-income Kainga Ora and community housing tenants at 25 percent of income. But that doesn't apply to Wellington City Council tenants who instead can pay 70 percent of market rates.

"I feel like we're being treated unfairly in a two-tier market," Ngakopu says.

If the Government gave the green light, it would cost $50 million over four years.

"We need to work together, we need to find a solution, we can't let this continue," says Wellington Mayor Andy Foster.

"It's hurting our tenants, it's hurting our council stock, we need a solution working together."

Housing Minister Megan Woods said in a statement that "diverting IRRS funding from our current pipeline to existing council places would mean that we could not deliver all of the new public housing places".

She said the Government "will continue to work with Wellington City Council on solutions for its housing problems".