Waikato District Council is proposing to change the way it delivers pensioner housing and is seeking feedback on this through its Long Term Plan consultation, which ends on 7 May 2021.
Council wishes to invite social housing providers to buy its pensioner housing under the proviso that the houses continue to be used as social housing. Council believes that selling the housing to a social housing provider is a better option than Council continuing to be the landlord. Council wants to know if the community agrees.
Waikato District Council owns and manages a housing for the elderly portfolio of 34 units in Ngaruawahia, Huntly and Tuakau. Council only acts as a landlord and does not provide other services, such as home help, meals or other direct social support.
Tenants in Council’s pensioner units currently pay 67% of the market rental rate. In the 2019/20 financial year, Council received $338,800 in income from rent from these units. In 2019/20 it cost $388,170 to provide the service.
“We have the best interests of our tenants at heart, and we have been talking to them about this issue over the last year,” Waikato district Mayor Allan Sanson says. “Community housing providers are professionals. Meeting the needs of our older people is a core part of what they do.”
“These providers - and others - have told us our current approach is likely not meeting the needs of those who most need subsidised housing in our district. We don’t have capacity or the funds to provide additional ‘wrap-around’ services for tenants, such as home help, meals and social services. This disadvantages some tenants who may need these services.”
“Other social housing providers often provide these services. Charitable trusts, church organisations, iwi and not-for-profits have provided social housing for many years and have worked with a wide range of people. They are specialists in this area and are better equipped to provide wrap-around services than we are,” he says.
There are also significant financial challenges facing Council if they were to retain their pensioner housing portfolio. Over the next 10 years $1.82 million is required to maintain the properties. This includes replacement of roofs and gutters, fencing, carpark resealing and plumbing. $850,000 is required to make necessary upgrades to the properties to meet acceptable standards suitable for older people (such as installing low entry showers and extractor fans). To operate the pensioner housing service in a “cost neutral” way, rents will need to be significantly increased to cover the cost of running the service.
Waikato District Council wants to know if you agree with its preferred option - to sell the pensioner housing. Let them know by making a submission by 5pm on Friday 7 May.
Council’s Long Term Plan is reviewed and updated every three years. It also asks what general rate increase option you prefer and if Council should continue its annual inorganic kerbside rubbish collection service.
The issues Council is facing are outlined in a consultation document, which is available from all Council offices and libraries and by phoning us on 0800 492 452, otherwise check out www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/ltp for more information and have your say today.
For more information please contact:
Communications & Engagement Manager
Waikato District Council