Myth busting: when charities can provide housing

Published 28 April 2021

[ 1 minute to read] 

When we’re out and about, we often hear myths about what charities can and can't do.

Our Myth busting series is a regular feature where we address some misconceptions and bust some myths about the obligations of charities. This month, we’re looking at when charities can provide housing.

Myth – Providing housing is not charitable.

Providing housing can be charitable, but it needs to be connected to a charitable purpose. What does this mean? Charitable purposes must have a public benefit and not just create private benefits for people who aren’t in need. Case law says that housing is a basic need and right, but home ownership itself is not.

Many amazing registered charities achieve their purposes, like relieving poverty or regenerating urban or rural areas, by providing a variety of housing options throughout Aotearoa.

You can check out our Sector Showcase of Island Child Charitable Trust(external link) that provides transitional homes for whānau experiencing homelessness.

Charities can, and do, support people into housing in a huge range of ways – whether it’s emergency housing, cheaper rentals, or home ownership. However, not all groups that support people into homes qualify as a charity. Having a purpose to make it easier for people to own homes is not itself charitable. If your group intends to offer a home ownership programme, we recommend getting in touch before you apply and we can discuss whether your group might qualify for registration.

Got questions? Please get in touch!(external link) We want to bust more myths and make it easy to be a charity in Aotearoa.