“Not afraid to tackle the hard issues.”

Recognition for housing strategist and her plan to solve Auckland’s housing crisis


Auckland, 2nd November 2017: Housing strategist, Leonie Freeman, who is driving an independent solution to Auckland’s housing crisis, has been awarded the Kiwi Property Judges Choice Award at the prestigious Property Council New Zealand’s Auckland Property People Awards.

During the awards ceremony, the judges cited Ms Freeman’s win as recognition of her continued dedication and contribution to the property industry. “Working in several roles throughout her career, she has provided strong, strategic thinking to both the private and public sector. Not afraid to tackle the hard issues, her continued commitment to better the industry is to be commended, and makes her a perfect recipient for this award.”

Ms Freeman, who also created the concept of what is now realestate.co.nz, appeared on The AM Show earlier this week, to discuss ‘land banking’ in Auckland. She also highlighted the siloed approach to fixing Auckland’s housing crisis. “Nobody in any individual sector can solve the housing crisis on their own. You have everybody from Government, council, private sector, developers, iwi, the community housing sector and the finance community… somehow we have to find a way to bring them together, to implement a collective housing plan for the city.”

Following the launch of her independent not for profit organisation last year to solve Auckland’s housing crisis using a collective approach, she has attracted increasing interest from key industry players in New Zealand and abroad. In August this year, the first independent Auckland Housing Summit was held. Chief Human Rights Commissioner David Rutherford, was one of the speakers to address the 130 participants.

The Summit marked the first step in a collective call to Aucklanders, to connect and brainstorm the way forward. “There’s no silver bullet on its way, so we’re taking the lead from other countries who have successfully solved similar problems using a ‘collective impact’ model,” says Ms Freeman.

One example is the award winning US based ‘100,000 Homes Campaign,’ a national movement that housed 105,000 homeless Americans over a four year period. This was achieved by the commitment and collaboration of multiple organisations who left any political agenda at the door and pooled resources and expertise.

In New Zealand, the same model was used by The People’s Project in Hamilton. In 2014, a goal was set to end homelessness in the city by 2016. Through the collective action of local and central government, and not for profit organisations, 254 people were housed in just two years with support provided to 311 people seeking housing solutions. Of those housed, 94% remain in their own homes two years later.

Ms Freeman says she is humbled by the award and is thrilled to be able to ‘give back’ via her philanthropic initiative. She is continuing to meet with industry partners as momentum to implement the collective impact solution builds.

“The goal is to establish a new not for profit organisation that would be run in a disciplined and business-like manner. Whilst central and local government would be key stakeholders, the organisation would be neutral, driven by solutions rather than politics.”

Such an organisation would be governed by a group of influential champions to provide clear leadership for the city, says Ms Freeman.

Auckland Housing Summit – 1 August



Auckland Housing Summit

The Auckland Housing Summit is the initiative of a voluntary group of concerned Aucklanders.

We don’t want to finger point, blame the other guy, or talk about the problems.  We know what the problems are, we know a lot of the solutions – what we need is action.

There is no single organisation, idea or person, no matter how innovative or powerful, that can solve Auckland’s housing crisis.  Together, we need to step up and be part of the solution.  We need to ask ourselves:  what will we do to solve the Auckland housing crisis?  It requires connecting minds in a common direction with common objectives.  It needs real leadership, long term focus and commitment.

The Auckland Housing Summit will draw together a cross section of industry leaders to create a platform for direct action through the discipline of collective impact.  It will deliver a collective plan of action, with accountabilities, responsibilities, and timeframes that can be shared with Aucklanders.

Silence from Government and Council on comprehensive solution to Auckland’s Housing Crisis

Media release
Wednesday 7th December 2016 at 9am (NZST)

A philanthropic venture aimed at solving Auckland’s Housing Crisis has failed to gain commitment from Council or Government, despite a feasible plan from one of New Zealand’s foremost housing strategists.

In October this year, Leonie Freeman launched thehomepage.nz which, for the first time, provided a comprehensive picture of Auckland’s housing crisis together with a detailed solution.

Ms Freeman says “while many groups and individuals have indicated their willingness to put their shoulders to this wheel alongside mine, there is not a sufficient level of support to progress the project further.”

“In particular, Auckland Council has not formally responded to my proposal. But I have been informed indirectly that the Council, reflecting the position of the Mayor, has decided not to support the initiative.
In spite of the inquiries I have made, I see nothing from the Council to suggest that it has a better idea to present.”

“Similarly, the Government has not yet responded formally to the initiative. I understand indirectly that the Government believes there is already sufficient channels for participation and co-ordination of the housing crisis and their current focus is on land supply and infrastructure provision.”

“I must assume that at both levels, there is an unwillingness to support any proposal for tackling and fixing the housing crisis that doesn’t emanate from within its own policy-making apparatus. However, the progress we haven’t been making to date on Auckland’s housing crisis reinforces a conviction that the answer doesn’t lie within local or central Government either.”

Ms Freeman, is the pioneer who created and built the ground-breaking concept that now goes under the name realestate.co.nz. Over the past six months, she has been a tireless crusader, funding and committing her own resources to a venture that seeks to solve Auckland’s Housing Crisis. “It’s my contribution to Auckland and to trying to solve what many of us see as the biggest issue facing our city.”

The proposal recognises that while there is a dire and escalating problem in Auckland, what’s been missing so far is a visible, cohesive solution with clear targets. “We’ve reached a point where the need is so broad and deep that no single idea, organisation or person can possibly deal to it.”

Ms Freemans’s solution lies in the Collective Impact approach that has proven to be successful on a global scale. It involves bringing all of the key players in the housing space together to set up a new, not-for-profit organisation, which would sit at the centre of the initiative and drive delivery of the plan.

A key milestone was to build 125,000 new homes by 2025 (420,000 by 2045). Of these, 50% would be ‘affordable’. The plan also aimed to raise home ownership levels to 65% by 2025, including for Maori and Pasifika people. Within the same time frame, a goal would be set to improving the quality of existing homes so that 95% are classified as ‘warm, dry and safe’.

Additionally, the plan would create 3000 more social housing dwellings by 2018, ensuring that by 2025, 20% of social housing is provided by the community housing sector and that the needs of the elderly are fully met. For renters (who make up more and more of Auckland households), there would have been a far better range of secure tenure options. “And our intention was to eliminate homelessness in Auckland by 2022,” says Ms Freeman.

Ms Freeman has spent the past three months talking to key stakeholders in the housing sector, urging them to engage. “At this stage, I’ve been asking them to commit no further than getting involved and helping fund the next step, which is a six-month, detailed feasibility study. The deadline to commit was 30th November.”

“Although I am not in a position to take the initiative forward, as I’d hoped, it’s good to have added to the discussion and debate. And I acknowledge all the positive feedback, support and the great work undertaken by so many different people over the past six months.”

To read Ms Freeman’s plan for solving Auckland’s Housing Crisis, visit thehomepage.nz. You can also show your support for the initiative via Twitter @thehomepagenz and on LinkedIn at thehomepage.nz.


For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Serena Benson
Public Relations & Media Consultant
+64 (0)22 077 0767

Notes to the Editor:

About Leonie Freeman:

Leonie is a leader who commands an unusual breadth of insight into the New Zealand property sector, having held top positions on both sides of the private and public divide. In 1996, she created the concept of what is now realestate.co.nz. The venture was originally known as RealENZ.co.nz. It was one of the first major commercial websites launched in New Zealand.

Her next project involved the purchase of a small run-down residential property management business. Leonie totally transformed ‘Interactive’ before selling it nine years ago.

After a well-earned break, Leonie focused on a contribution in the public sector. Leonie was the strategic property advisor in the setup of the new Auckland Council and acted as project director for a complex Council development project.

An 18 month stint as the General Manager of Development for Housing New Zealand broadened her social housing experience and at the request of the Minister of Finance, she led a strategic review of the Social Housing Programme last Christmas.

In 2011, Leonie was appointed to the board of the listed company – Goodman Property Trust. Leonie is also a member of Global Women, a collaboration of New Zealand’s most influential leaders.

Independent initiative launched to solve Auckland’s housing crisis

Joining the dots to solve ‘one heck of a problem.’

One of New Zealand’s foremost housing strategists, today unveils an independent initiative that aims to solve Auckland’s housing crisis.

Whilst you would need to be hiding under a rock not to have heard about Auckland’s housing woes, the narrative is repetitive and tedious. It’s clear there’s an escalating problem. What isn’t clear is a visible, cohesive solution with clear targets.

Enter Leonie Freeman.

Changing policies, finger pointing, demand, supply, and a disconnect between public and private sector players have all contributed to what has become one heck of a problem, says Ms Freeman, founder of the thehomepage.nz.

‘I think we’ve all reached a point where it’s become increasingly obvious that no single idea, organisation or person can solve such a complex problem. To solve the problem requires real leadership with a long term focus and commitment.’

The philanthropic enterprise aims to first understand the true nature and scope of the crisis and provide a comprehensive solution with a detailed plan for getting there.

‘Enough is enough’, says Ms Freeman. ‘We can’t wait any longer. We need to fix Auckland’s housing issues now by connecting what currently look like the scattered pieces of a jigsaw. We’ll do it by implementing four key steps.’

The first step is to define the vision by identifying where Auckland wants to go and what success looks like. Secondly, a structure will be put in place using a collective impact methodology. This is a practice used globally to ensure that multiple players are working together towards the same goal and measuring the same things.

The third step is about creating a housing framework to make sense of the problem. Ms Freeman says the framework she has created provide a structure to help make sense of all the pieces of the housing jigsaw.

‘Finally, we need a resolute and unified action plan. We need to be clear and transparent about where we are going and how we can get there together.’

Ms Freeman is the pioneer who created and built the ground-breaking concept that now goes under the name realestate.co.nz.

Her solution is strategic, detailed and logical, incorporating key stakeholders from policy makers to infrastructure providers, developers, construction companies, consultants and planners. ‘We all have plenty of ideas, there’s no shortage of them. The challenge is to coordinate them, bed them in and get on with the hard work.’

‘I say this to all Aucklanders; if Auckland wants to solve its housing crisis then it is up to us, as Aucklanders, to solve it.’


PR/media enquiries

For more information or arrange an interview, please contact:
Serena Benson
Public Relations & Media Consultant
+64 (0)22 077 0767