I had grand plans at the start of 2020. I was excited to be back on Greater Auckland and writing seriously about housing.
And then a Covid-shaped curveball came along, and didn’t seem to leave space for much else. I’m not sure how you all spent your lockdown (Interesting stories? Share in the comments!), but for me it was a juggle: trying to still work as close to 40 hours a week as possible, and parenting our toddler with my wife who was also trying to work. I’ve never spent so much time inside my home, and in such a small radius around it.
I love my home, and my neighbourhood, but it was a stressful time and by the time I finished each day, I just didn’t have the energy for blogging. Matt and Heidi did an amazing job continuing to write during this time.
Now we’re almost back to normal (and daycare is open again, hallelujah) I feel I’ve got the bandwidth to start this up again. But like anything, it needs to be re-evaluated in light of Covid-19. Are the things I was wanting to write still relevant? Is this still the right “editorial direction” for us to take on housing? Some of the things I wanted to cover this year:
- Housing as a human right
- Why a home is more than just a roof over your head
- How should ‘housing affordability’ be defined?
- How should ‘housing quality’ be defined?
- How do we ensure that our housing is sustainable?
This still seems pretty good to me, albeit only a starting point. There’s so much to cover – I had a numbered list of 18 points on the housing page, and many more thoughts besides that. Climate change and sustainability should be front and centre, and I also wanted to move beyond just numbers (how many homes, how much do they cost) towards understanding quality too.
Quality seems even more important now, when we’ve all been spending much more time at home. Are our homes fit for purpose? Will they stay warm and dry year-round, and can we live well within them? Is there space to play, a place to kick a ball around within walking distance?
‘Working from home’ deserves a post of its own. But one post suggests that only 31%-36% of NZ jobs can be done from home. So do our homes really need a ‘home office’ space, or simply spaces that can adapt to the changing needs of their residents? Surely we can’t just tack on an extra 10 square metres to every new home, costing an extra $30,000 or so, to make sure every home has space for one? Will Covid make us shift from cities to small towns, or vice versa? Within cities, will we intensify or spread out?
Covid could also have a large impact on our housing shortage. Migration accounted for a whopping 65% of NZ’s population growth over 2013-2019, and now that’s gone – for now. And as we head into recession, what will happen to the number of homes being built?
I’d love to hear from you all about how this experience has changed housing for you or people you know – maybe you’re rethinking the home you live in, maybe you’re rediscovering the joys of your neighbourhood, maybe you’re relocating to be close to family or small furry animals. And how do you see the way we live changing, in the aftermath of Covid and over the next few years?