Cooperative Housing Association of Aotearoa New Zealand

The Barefoot Builders' Campaign

An industrial production strategy to lower housing costs
by developing a step-equity housing option as the first phase
of a solution-based reponse to rural housing need.

The proposal features:

  a partnership between civil
    society & the NZ Government;

  to lower housing costs
    by developing a step-equity
    housing option;

  as the first phase of a
    solution-based programme;

  to rebuild societal capital
    & so address rural
    housing need.


It is proposed that the Coalition Government partner will:

  1. recognise that the prospect of paying interest on housing loans by families with the lowest per-capita-incomes in New Zealand, is a great obstacle to addressing rural poverty.

  2. recognise that the solution to rural housing need, lies in a coherent, structural, non-market approach - in the form of a unified, sustainable, and efficient housing delivery system, based on Revolving Building Funds.

  3. make the capital investment possible to initiate such Revolving Building Funds, by allowing communities of interest, to capitalise upon the Accommodation Supplement.

  4. provide communities of interest with small amounts of capital to build Low-cost Housing Factories , on community-owned land, as the core organisational component of the proposed housing delivery system.

It is proposed that the Community Partners will:

  1. seek to use the resources allocated by Government only for the common good.

  2. recognise that the needs of children and the elderly have priority.

  3. take only those actions which lead in time, to the independence of the housing delivery systems, such that they support the government's need to lower social spending.

  4. to use any surplus generated, to generate further economic development and consequent employment in the community.

  5. observe as their Code of Practice, the spirit of the UN Istanbul Declaration - "Sustainable Human Settlements in an Urbanising World" and "Shelter for All";

  6. cooperate with other communities of interst, to build an added-value, housing-componentry export market, stemming from this delivery system.


Chaanz Step-Equity Housing Delivery System

  1. The steps of a family towards housing equity and choice;

  2. Building infrastructure to implement the programme;

  3. Management infrastructure to finance and risk-manage the programme.
    (The house designs which make the approach viable are found in appendix 3.)
A low-income family's steps on the pathway from simple rental to shared-equity:
1. family with
regional &
local groups
rentsbegin a
local revolving
building fund

Infrastructure Support:

2. national
support group
support unit.

Funding Stream:

3. national
building fund
housing delivery.
Local & regional
of panels.

1.1 Need
A low-income family in serious housing need, may not have access to land. We would suggest that such familes enter a "starter house" shared-equity programme, like that used by Just Housing in Auckland, or by the North Hokianga Housing Trust on their eco-village site. This promises the highest standard of amenity and affordability in the long-term. Families without access to land, can be loaned community land for a finite period. Chaanz groups will seek to meet the needs of the children first. back

1.2 Contract
In a case where the family own their land, a local building administration group would respond by renting their building site from the family and engaging them in the planning of the house. The building site and access to it would be rented from the family for a peppercorn-rent and a contract drawn up detailing the terms and condition of the agreement. A stipulation of the contract would be that all disputes go to arbitration rather than lawyers; that such arbitration is binding upon both parties; and failure to accept this provision terminates the contract and the house is repossessed.

1.3 Build
A local building group agrees to size and value of the house to be built, with as much family input as possible.back

1.4 Rents
The rental monies go into a regional Revolving Building Fund. Low income families renting to the local housing trust would be eligible for a government accommodation subsidy. The regional Revolving Building Fund is necessary to build community capacity at a significant rate. There would be local representation on the regional bodies.
Rent levels set by the family in conjunction with the local organising group. These levels to be consistent with the family’s needs for adequate levels of disposable income and time scales that demonstrate that the family are discharging their obligations to the local community. Because these initial phase houses are more affordable and attract no interest payments, the ownership of these houses can be gained in as little as four years. For families under pressure, who elect to spin out the re-payment cycle, it merely takes longer to gain an equity stake. Families who rent out their house and make an equity gain, will be deemed to have broken their contract and the house will be re-possessed, with penalties. back

1.5 Equity Gain
Family pays no interest. They own the house when rent equals cost to community of building the house. back

1.6 Options
When the actual payments made from wages and benefits equal the agreed cost to the community, of building the family’s house, a number of options come into play:

  1. The family will take ownership of their house for a sale price of say $1, and upon doing so, the contract with the community ceases, and the family can do whatever they like with the house.
  2. Or any other negotiated option that respects the common good. We would like to think that as families grow they can take up other options which are about expanding their homes (see Appendix 3). Or they could return their small relocatable so that other families starting up could use them. Their equity gain could be then used to build a larger house. With such strategies and the existence of 3rd Economic Sector groups, the gap between need and affordability can be bridged in innovative ways.back

2.1 National Infrastructure Support
This unit is an integral part of a wider support unit for the whole of the Third Economic Sector - TESDAS (Third Economic Sector Development and Studies). TESDAS in its embryonic form is located at the Auckland Regional Support Unit, part of which is used for research and development in the 3rd economic sector. Projects under way at this time are:

  1. Low-cost solar heating.

  2. Low-cost door and window systems.

  3. Plumbing systems adapted for community use.

  4. Strategic Planning for this step-equity paper - The Barefoot Builders Campaign.

  5. Design and planning support for current operations in both Auckland and Northland. back

2.2 Regional Infrastructure Support units
This is the local proposed factory and the administration unit; both to carry out the factory building phase and relating to and assisting the local participant groups in the programme. The Regional Administration Group, through local trustees, own the regional equity and control the Regional Building Fund. They will have a contractual arrangement with local participant groups for assisting with the management of local programmes.back

2.3 Local Infrastructure Support
The local building groups manage the local programme which could include building and maintenance work and tenant management as per their contractual arrangement with the Regional Support Unit. Local groups would be encouraged to maximise their involvement, at all stages, to meet local perceived needs. back

3.1 National Funding Stream
The CHAANZ national unit as well as offering operational infrastructure support also offers risk management support in building partnerships. It is proposed that all funding for the Barefoot Builders Campaign follow a process, offering security to both government and other financial supporters, which has three contractual stages in the relationship:

  1. Funder to CHAANZ (Funding earmarked to projects)

  2. CHAANZ to region (Funding earmarked to projects)

  3. Region to local group (Funding earmarked to project)
(Bitter experience in terms of the need to prevent privatisation and the need to have on tap, well-organised support mechanisms to stop projects falling over, are at the base of what would appear to be a cumbersome methodology.)back

3.2 Regional Funding
This is the autonomous regional process which triggers off projects in conjunction with local groups.

3.3 Local Funding
This is the aim of the campaign and of 3rd Economic Sector housing overall - self-financing housing delivery systems.

3.4 Economic Development
The meeting of housing need as intended in this campaign is an example of 3rd Economic Sector development. As well as through gaining autonomous self-funding housing delivery systems, the skills gained through transfers of training would be the basis of a future value-added export of housing componentry to both first-world nations and to third-world nations unable to be serviced by the private sector.back

Note: Capitalising the Accommodation Supplement

We argue that capitalization of the Accommodation Supplement:

  1. is a process that is no more complex or costly than the present bureaucratic dealings with individual families.

  2. is a method which in time will abate the need for the Accommodation Supplement.

  3. will counter speculation in the provision of rental housing, on the basis of privatising the Accommodation Supplement.

  4. avoid a future New Zealand where families live without equity and the State pays an accommodation subsidy to private house owners for the life-time of the family.back


Programme Elements

  1. Organisational/Financial




    Shared equity Housing

    Appendix 1


    Community Self-Build Regional Housing & Employment Resource Centres

    Appendix 2


    Step-equity Housing - As per diagram;

    Appendix 3


    Group Housing (to reduce building and service costs)


    2.   Technical





    Expandable Housing

    Appendix 3


    Relocatable Housing

    Appendix 4


    Ultra Low-cost door and window system;



    Self-plumbing system using non-concealed piping



    Composting toilets & grey water evaporation systems



    Group Sewage schemes



    Solar Hot Water Supply



    3.   A Phased Programme

    • Phase 1 - Pilot Schemes
    • Phase 1a will concentrate upon the Cabash 2 storey, ultra low-cost, re-locatable, "starter house" as illustrated in Appendix 3
    • Items a) to g) in 2 above will all be included in the programme.


Societal Capital

The diagram of the Positive Spirals of Societal Capital helps to define "societal capital".

  1. A Rationale

  2. The term, "Societal Capital", recognises the resource-base that lies within the polarised extremes and inefficiencies of both the public and private sectors of the economy. It represents the economic interests of civil society institutions working for the common good.

    The defining characteristic of the Third Economic Sector's approach to enhancing the common good - as distinct from the public and private sectors - is its egalitarian societal capital = opportunity, social and economic development model.

    Specific features of egalitarian opportunities are:

    1. A universal benefit approach to meeting basic needs: as opposed to the targetting of scarce resources, or requiring user pays;
    2. Community - commercial: but neither takes or pays interest;
    3. Seeks to lower public and private debt to enhance New Zealand's overall economic wellbeing - particularly in respect of the current account deficit;
    4. Seeks efficiencies in the creation of substantive extra wealth to benefit the common good through higher levels of economic cooperation;
    5. Concentrates upon New Zealand's renewable energy-efficient resources;
    6. Seeks to modify the excesses of the public and private sectors by offering a genuine alternate.

    Genuine Societal Capital gives access to all individuals and groups, to understand and engage in Civil Society's social and economic initiatives.

    The ethical use of Societal Capital can be judged in the extent to which it is harnessed to bring about the empowerment of Civil Society institutions.

    In a socio/political sense, Societal Capital is that capacity to serve the common good which emerges from respectful partnerships between the Governing bodies and those who consent to be governed.

  3. Conflicting Paradigms
  4. The sectorial overlaps in the lower section of the Positive Spirals of Societal Capital Diagram, represent interacting development paradigms. When the partnership implicit in an interacting paradigm sets aside concept of Rangitiratanga (defence of Mana or natural justice - those who take the responsibility for carrying out a task, have the right to be involved in setting of the agendas) then Public Sector - Civil Society partnerships won't work.

  5. A contribution towards a Knowledge Economy
  6. (A civil Society development model)

    The problem facing New Zealand is how to free up sufficient resources to make the necessary investment in building an inclusive knowledge economy. New Zealand is faced with the apparent contradiction of needing to increase its ability to compete in the global market place, meet perceived societal needs at ever higher level of expectation whilst cutting social and other costs.

    This diagram illustrating spirals of societal capital is presented as a development model which can begin the process of introducing new efficiencies to our economy. The invitation implicit in its presentation, is, in terms of practical judgements, which model of development, the Market model or the Societal Capital model is the most efficient pathway towards an inclusive Knowledge Economy.



Appendix 1: The Chaanz Housing Delivery System:

  1. Step-Equity Housing Delivery System
  2. Chaanz Trust

  3. Chaanz Regional Operations

  4. Chaanz Shared-Equity Housing

  5. Chaanz Regional Revolving Building Fund

Appendix 2: Multi-purpose Building:

  1. Elevations

  2. Floor Plan

Appendix 3: Relocatable Housing System:

  1. 2-level house

  2. single-level pod house (one bedroom)

  3. single-level pod house (two bedroom)

  4. single-level pod house (three bedroom)

Appendix 4: The Chaanz Photo Gallery

Appendix 5: The Chaanz Code of Practice & Manifesto


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