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Council seeks public feedback on future of pensioner housing

Council seeks public feedback on future of pensioner housing in District

Horowhenua District Council is to seek community feedback on a proposal that it no longer provides pensioner housing as a core service.

The feedback from the special consultation process will assist elected members to make an informed decision on how to progress with its pensioner housing stock of 115 units across eight complexes throughout the District.

If Council decides to no longer provide pensioner housing, it would then seek expressions of interest from Community Housing Providers.

Horowhenua District Mayor Brendan Duffy said a written condition of any sale and purchase agreement would be that all properties bought by a community housing provider would be retained as community housing for the district, ensuring existing tenants could stay in their units. Another condition would ensure the same or better level of service that Council is currently providing tenants with.

“Council wants to ensure community housing in Horowhenua remains accessible and affordable,” he said.

“The level of housing need in the community is far greater than we can deliver and will only grow over time. Also, the service currently being delivered by Council is not sustainable in the medium-to-long term without significant operational and capital expenditure being made.”

Mr Duffy said that Central Government through its social housing reform programme no longer allowed councils to access capital grant subsidies to develop and deliver new community housing; nor could they access subsidies to help make housing affordable for tenants. Only registered community housing providers had the ability to access these subsidies.

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“The existing rights and benefits of our tenants will not change. In fact, we hope they will improve, as there are advantages to be gained from a change of ownership to a community housing provider. For instance, comparing current rents to what qualifying community housing tenants are entitled to under the Income Related Rent Subsidy offered by Government to Community Housing Providers, some tenants could be up to $61 per week better off,” he said.

“Plus, community housing providers can offer much wider wrap-around social services such as meals, outings, social services and health-care, providing even more value to tenants. They are also in a better position than Council, or the private sector, to provide the specialist support required by some elderly tenants. Essentially, community housing providers offer a very safe pair of hands.”

Consultation starts on Thursday 18 February and closes at 5.00pm on Saturday 19 March.

The public can provide feedback by filling in submission forms available from Council’s main office in Levin, its service centres at the Foxton and Shannon community libraries, and from Te Takere. People can also make their submissions online via Council’s website www.horowhenua.govt.nz/communityhousing.

All feedback received will be collated and presented to Councillors before hearing submissions on Wednesday 30 March. Council will then meet on Wednesday 13 April to deliberate and make a final decision.

Full Consultation Document

ENDS

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