City councillors have called for an investigation into how Tauranga's pensioner housing will best work in the future.
Councillors have been presented with two options; either sell off the city's pensioner flats or lease them to an organisation that can operate them.
“Our decision was heavily based on the desire to improve tenant wellbeing,” says Chair of the Community and Culture Committee, Terry Molloy.
“One of Council's key priorities is to provide a higher standard of living for all its residents, and that includes affordable, fit for purpose housing for our ageing population.”
A report by the New Zealand Housing Foundation, recommends that Council sell its portfolio to a community housing provider – or it could retain ownership and partner with a CHP to run them.
A working group established as part of the review, considers both options are worth pursuing and recommends that they are both investigated further before a decision is made.
The working group will report back to the Committee before the end of the year. Any future decision, will involve public consultation, before it is implemented.
“There is a growing need to increase the current Elder Housing stock to keep up with demand,” says Terry.
“We already have over 30 people on a waiting list who require affordable housing. Without access to government funding, it makes it very difficult for Council to provide a sustainable service going forward. If we stay with the status quo, it would be a disservice to the people who really need the support.
“We are committed to finding the best way forward to ensure affordable Elder Housing can continue to be offered in Tauranga, while protecting the welfare and tenure of our current tenants,” says Terry.
Alongside NZHF's report, Council established a tenant advisory group and working group. Tenants from each of the nine Elder Housing villages in Tauranga made up the tenant advisory group.
Representatives from a range of community organisations, government agencies, technical experts and a representative from the tenant advisory group, formed the working group.
Central government is using law changes to turn councils away from providing pensioner housing. They make council tenants ineligible to access Income Related Rent Subsidies and limit Council's access to government funding to build new units.
Council has 246 Elder Housing units spread across nine villages in Greerton, Mount Maunganui and Tauranga Central.
Council's Elder Housing stock is ageing, with over one third of the units around 50 years old and none less than 25 years.
On a fit for purpose basis, one village is in need of redevelopment within five years and at least three other villages within 10 years.