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Age Concern disturbed by Council decision

AGE CONCERN MEDIA RELEASE -- 20 DECEMBER 2001

"The Auckland City Council's decision on the sale of pensioner housing will be of major impact to those people affected and is a disturbing and heartless one" states Garth Taylor Chief Executive of Age Concern New Zealand.

Should the proposed sale of pensioner housing proceed, Auckland City will be only the fourth local body (the three others are Chatham Islands, Rodney District and Upper Hutt) and the only major urban area to take this decision.

"Local bodies have a long history of being involved in the care and responsibility of their most vulnerable citizens with the provision of safe, accessible, low rental housing forming the cornerstone of this. Those older people who are solely reliant on New Zealand Superannuation need the security of a stable home to live in at an affordable rental. Until now this is what has been the norm for Auckland's older citizens" says Mr. Taylor.

"It is interesting to note that despite the low rental for Council housing units most are not subsidised by rates. Two thirds of councils reported in 1996 that their pensioner housing was self-funding - that is rental income covered all maintenance costs. However our largest city would have us believe it can no longer afford to continue with the provision of housing for its older citizens".

The Council states that their debt is to rise to $367 million in three years yet the sale of their airport shares with an estimated market value of $421 million more than covers this. "It is also interesting to note that much of the rising debt is due to the Britomart project. Therefore it would seem that the Auckland City Council regard it as more important to house their transportation than look after the needs of their older citizens," Mr Taylor says.

This decision is a major blow to the health and well being of lower income older New Zealanders, who will be disadvantaged by living north of the Bombay Hills!!

ENDS

Age Concern is a not-for-profit, charitable organisation working to promote the well-being and quality of life of older people in New Zealand, since 1948.

For further information please contact: Garth Taylor, Chief Executive (wk) 0-4-471 2709 or (mobile) 025 243 6991

http://www.ageconcern.org.nz

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