Christchurch City Council has been providing rental accommodation for people with a serious housing need since 1938.

With more than 2,200 housing units spread throughout most suburbs in Christchurch, the Council's social housing portfolio is second only in size to that of Housing New Zealand Corporation.

Our housing policy requires that social housing be financially self-supporting and not funded from rates.

Tenancy information

The Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust manages all tenancies for the Council's social housing. If you are a tenant, or you wish to apply for housing support, please contact the Trust directly.

Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust

  • Freephone: 0800 624 456
  • Landline: 03 260 0058
  • Location: 61 Kilmore Street, Christchurch
  • Hours: 8.30am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday
  • Website:
    (external link)

Other housing options

There is a range of emergency housing and support services in Christchurch.

Emergency housing and support services

There is no emergency housing available through social housing with the Christchurch City Council.

Ministry of Social Development

If you need emergency housing, contact the Ministry of Social Development(external link) on 0800 559 009.

They can help you to access emergency housing in Christchurch. They may also be able to help you with an application for a longer term home either with Housing New Zealand Corporation or a Community Housing Provider. They run a housing register that multiple housing providers can access.

No fixed abode

This is a free no fixed abode and support services directory [PDF, 338 KB] of Christchurch accommodation and services for people without a safe, secure home. 

This directory is available from all Christchurch City Council service centres(external link), and as reference only at all Christchurch City Council community libraries(external link).

If you have any additions or changes to the directory, please contact us.

Temporary accommodation

Temporary accommodation villages have been set up to help meet the demand for short term rental housing after the earthquakes. See who you can talk to about accommodation while your home is being repaired or rebuilt.

Christchurch Housing Accord

The amended Accord was ratified by the Council in May 2017.

Its long-term goal is to restore a well-functioning, private-sector-led housing market in Christchurch, with enough supply at the lower end of the market to ensure those on lower incomes have access to housing, including social housing.

The Accord also includes a provision for consideration of issues of mutual interest with the Government as they arise. 

Christchurch Housing Accord 2017 [PDF, 73 KB]

Social housing history

We were the first local authority in New Zealand to provide social housing. We started out in the early 1920s providing homes for the elderly. Today a wide range of people are eligible for the Council’s social housing.

They include the elderly, disabled persons, sickness or unemployment beneficiaries and people on very low incomes. In general, all of these people have met financial hardship criteria. They are also some of Christchurch’s most vulnerable residents.

The early years

Barnett Avenue social housingBarnett Avenue - New Zealand's first purpose-built elderly persons' housing complex.

After the First World War there was an acute housing shortage in Christchurch. In 1921, the Council received a special loan from the State Advances Office to build eight houses on Council land in Huxley Street, Sydenham. Six more were built in 1922.

Although hampered by a lack of funds, in 1935, the Council decided that something further needed to be done about the city’s housing shortage. In 1938, a sub-committee recommended that a £25,000 loan be raised from the State Advances Department to construct 50 old-age pensioners’ cottages.

The report was adopted and the first 16 cottages were built on a portion of what was then the waterworks yard in Sydenham. They were built facing Barnett Avenue, a street specifically designed for the new housing complex.

Officially opened in August 1938, Barnett Avenue was the first purpose-built complex for elderly persons’ housing (EPH) provided by a local authority in New Zealand. Later, another £25,000 loan was raised and eight more cottages built on the same site. Another 26 houses were built on Willard Street, at the rear of Addington School, bringing the city’s total number of pensioners’ cottages to 50.

High-growth years

Social housing grew over the years to provide more housing for Christchurch’s elderly residents. The 1970s and 1980s were particularly high-growth years. Some complexes were built on Council-owned land, others were purchased by the Council already built. This growth was encouraged by central government, which offered low-interest loans to city councils to provide housing.

Central government stopped providing the low-interest loans in the early 1990s. Along with this change, Christchurch City Council acknowledged that there were gaps in the provision of affordable housing for people with disabilities or who were otherwise disadvantaged.

After a 1996 review of housing needs, a formal decision was made to build more flexible accommodation options to meet the community's needs (e.g. units with more bedrooms or facilities for people with physical disabilities).

Social housing today

Prior to the Canterbury earthquakes, there were 117 complexes and more than 2,640 units throughout Christchurch and Banks Peninsula. The original Huxley Street properties no longer belong to the Council, but Barnett Avenue continues to provide housing for 26 tenants. Christchurch City Council now has the second largest portfolio of social housing in New Zealand, after Housing New Zealand Corporation.

The Council's tenancies are today managed by the Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust(external link), established in 2016. The Trust is responsible for tenancy management, rent-setting, and the day-to-day maintenance of all social housing, while major repairs, renewals and the development of new housing remains the Council's domain, as owner of the land and buildings.

Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust

The Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust separately manages all of the Council's social housing tenancies.

About the Trust

Seven trustees make up the Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust — three Council appointed (Deputy Mayor Andrew Turner, Councillor Vicki Buck and Paul Lonsdale) and four independent trustees (Alex Skinner, Pam Sharpe, Lloyd Mander and Stephen Phillips).

The Council still owns its social housing buildings and land but leases these assets to the Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust to manage separately.

The Trust is responsible for tenancy management, rent-setting and the day-to-day maintenance of units, while major repairs, renewals and the development of new social housing remain the Council's domain.

Over time, the Trust will also develop its own social housing for Christchurch.

As an independent charitable trust, any surplus money is reinvested back into social housing, to improve the service provided to tenants and the wider community.

Visit the Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust's website.(external link)

Chief Executive

Cate Kearney

Cate Kearney is Chief Executive of the Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust. She took up her position on 13 June 2016.

Cate has worked and volunteered in the mental health, addictions and community services sectors for 21 years, including 16 years in leadership positions. Her previous position was Service Manager for the Canterbury District Health Board's Specialist Mental Health Service. She was responsible for diverse and complex service areas and led significant change and quality improvement projects.

Previously, Cate was CEO of ADANZ, a community addictions service that provided a nationwide alcohol and other drugs helpline. Cate has also led and/or served on several non-governmental organisation boards, committees and advisory groups.

Cate is dedicated to values-driven organisations that improve the wellbeing of people receiving services, and she strongly believes that providing safe, quality housing is an essential component of wellbeing. She has long held a personal interest in housing and has informally explored house design, green technologies and the ways architecture and urban design help to build communities.

Cate has a Masters in Health Sciences (Mental Health), a Post-Graduate Certificate in Child and Adolescent Mental Health, and a Certificate in Addictions Counselling.


Alex SkinnerAlex Skinner (Chair) has worked at KPMG for the past 20 years (the last 12 as a partner) and has made the decision to follow his aspirations in governance, for entities where he can make a difference. Alex has been in the profession since 1987, starting in the UK and moving to Wellington in 1998. He joined the partnership in 2004 and relocated to Christchurch in 2010. While his timing wasn't ideal given the earthquakes, Alex understands and appreciates the challenges the community continues to face. 

Since 2013, he has been the Senior Partner for KPMG, in Christchurch. His specialty is audit and risk, and he has been responsible for audits of privately owned businesses, corporates, not-for-profits and public-sector organisations, working closely with boards and trustees.

Alex is actively involved with the CA Institute and training courses for the Institute of Directors. Involvement in the community is important for Alex, and he is currently trustee and treasurer for the World Buskers’ Festival and Chair of his local school's PTA.

Stephen Phillips


Stephen Phillips has extensive experience in, and links with, community organisations. Recently retired, his career spanned more than 30 years in local government, managing both small and large business units, largely focused at the interface with community organisations. He was also manager of the 198 Youth Health Centre for nearly three years and was chief executive of Age Concern Canterbury for five years.

These roles have given him a good understanding of a range of community issues and experience relevant to his appointment as a trustee of the Otautahi Community Housing Trust.

Stephen is active in a number of volunteer roles, including the Canterbury Justice of the Peace Association. He is a member of the Age Concern Canterbury Board and is Deputy Chairman of the CDHB Consumer Council. Previously, he was also active in a number of other associations and is Past President of Friends of Canterbury Museum. He was also a member of the Community Justice Panels. Stephen is an Associate Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Management Southern.

Lloyd Mander


Lloyd Mander is a Christchurch-based executive director and business consultant with a background in professional services, healthcare management and commercial property management. He was the co-founder and managing director of Hearing Advantage, a high-growth hearing healthcare business. This diverse business provided comprehensive diagnostic and rehabilitative services privately and under contract to District Health Boards.

Lloyd has a strong interest in design thinking, quality management systems and property investment strategy. He has a Master of Business Administration, with Distinction, from the University of Canterbury, and a Master of Audiology, with First Class Honours, from the University of Auckland. He is a Member of the NZ Institute of Directors. Lloyd has had a lifelong passion for business and enjoys providing voluntary mentoring services through Business Mentors NZ.

Pam Sharpe


Pam Sharpe has been involved in promoting and supporting the delivery of quality social housing at a governance level for the past 10 years. She is a Trustee of the Christchurch Methodist Mission and the Housing Plus Trust, with a special focus on those who, without community support, would struggle to find their own home.

As a Trustee of the Wayne Francis Charitable Trust, she actively promotes her passionate commitment to early childhood development and the housing of families. Past governance experience includes mayoress of Christchurch, chairing the Mayoral Welfare Fund. Pam also served on the Pegasus Community Advisory Board and the Alcohol and Drug Association of New Zealand Board, as well as a number of other charitable trusts representing the city of Christchurch. 

Pam is a Registered nurse and has over 40 years’ experience working in palliative care, including aged care and community nursing.

Vicki Buck


Vicki Buck is the Christchurch City Councillor for the Riccarton ward. Her background includes social, commercial, education and environmental experience.

She has wide experience in local government, and has served on commercial boards as diverse as start-up technologies, the Reserve Bank and publicly listed boards. She has a strong interest in quality, affordable housing and in ensuring everyone in Christchurch has a good-quality home. 

Aside from local government, Vicki has set up two state schools and been very active in new environmental technologies. 

Andrew Turner


Andrew Turner is the Deputy Mayor and Council representative of the Banks Peninsula ward. He has a strong interest in social and environmental issues, and understands the necessity for quality, fit-for-purpose housing for all Christchurch residents.

Andrew is committed to the provision of warm, dry, secure social housing for those that need it most in our communities. Andrew has been involved in grassroots community organisations for many years, and believes in strong, resilient, sustainable communities.

Among other responsibilities, Andrew is a Justice of the Peace, a director of the Canterbury Development Corporation, a trustee of the Rod Donald Banks Peninsula Trust, and a trustee of the Lyttelton RSA.

Paul Lonsdale


Paul Lonsdale has been in retail for 35 years across a variety of roles, including manager and marketing manager of Merivale Mall, and manager of The Palms Shopping Centre. Paul was elected Councillor for the Hagley–Ferrymead ward in 2013. Prior to this, he was the central-city manager for the Canterbury Business Association for seven years. During this time, Paul built strong working relationships with key stakeholders, including businesses, property owners, Christchurch City Council and the Police.

Paul also initiated a number of projects that pulled the business community together and reduced inner-city anti-social behaviour. After the September 2010 earthquake, Paul became the single point of contact for the business community and coordinated and ran the highly successful Boxing Day Re:Play promotion. Following the February 2011 earthquakes, Paul was one of the key leaders in the Re:Start initiative, staying on to manage Re:Start to success.