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Whangarei Accessible Housing Trust's Life changing Homes

Whangarei Accessible Housing Trust's Life changing Homes

29 June 2014

A “small but mighty” Northland housing trust marked a significant milestone today with the first tenants moving in to the Whangarei Accessible Housing Trust’s new homes in the Auckland suburb of Takanini.

The Whangarei Accessible Housing Trust’s rental properties are set to transform the lives of eight tenants and their families, all of whom were identified as living in houses that were completely unsuited to even their basic needs.

Blogger and university student Jan Butterworth (36) is delighted to move into one of the brand new four bedroom homes custom built to ensure disabled people can live with dignity.

“I felt trapped in my previous home. I had no freedom because I couldn’t get through the doors easily in my wheelchair. Because of the way the bathroom was laid out, at times it had an impact on my ability to get support workers to help me which has been difficult.”

The new home promises to change all that. “I’ve been looking for an accessible home for the past four years so this is a fantastic opportunity. It has nice wide doorways, enough space for me to get in and out of all the rooms and a bathroom and shower that I can get into on my own. It should meet my needs perfectly - right down to the cat door that’s been installed for me!” explains Jan.

Whangarei Accessible Housing Trust’s Chair Vanassa McGoldrick believes the official opening marks a momentous occasion for the award-winning trust and is thrilled to be able to deliver a tangible outcome for both supporters and the community.

“We know this is just a tiny drop in the ocean compared to the need out there, but we’re very proud of what we’ve achieved, particularly because we’re a very small team. We’re delivered on time and under budget and I think we continue to prove that affordable and accessible housing is not something for the ‘too hard’ basket. It’s do-able!”

The properties are part of a new subdivision that is close to public transport and the amenities that support people to live full and independent lives, a hallmark of the trust’s approach.

“These homes are a far cry from ‘residential style’ properties, where units of modified properties are grouped together. We feel confident that we’ve delivered homes that truly meet the needs of disabled people and their families,” says Ms McGoldrick.
With Statistics New Zealand’s release of the latest Disability Survey showing a huge increase in the numbers of disabled New Zealanders, the completion of the new homes is timely.

“We now know that there are over a million Kiwis who have been identified as having a disability. That’s roughly one in four people. In our region we see a huge lack of accessible rental properties, families disconnected from their family due to a lack of available social housing, young people living in rest homes and people living in conditions that are completely unsuitable and sometimes unsafe, explains Auriole Ruka, Regional Manager at CCS Disability Action and Whangarei Accessible Housing Trustee.

Ms McGoldrick is calling for a more ‘creative’ approach to tackling the undersupply of accessible housing. “We know that we can’t do this on our own, so we’re looking forward to seeing other providers and Government really taking on the challenge to create homes that really work for all New Zealanders,” she explains.

The Takanini development was made possible by a $2 million Government Social Housing Unit grant. Trustees also secured additional funding from The Jubilee Trust, Ripple Trust and Kiwibank. They were also lent support by CCS Disability Action.

“We would like to acknowledge the support of the Social Housing Unit which, by supporting projects such as ours, demonstrates a commitment to developing strong, diverse communities where all people can be connected to their local community,” says Mrs Ruka.

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