Nelson's community housing
At a special briefing today, councillors were advised that new investment in Nelson’s community housing stock might be possible working with partners Housing New Zealand, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and the Nelson Tasman Housing Trust.
Such investment is urgently needed as 50% of the portfolio will require renewal within 25 years at a cost estimated at about $20 million. This is an exciting opportunity to expand Nelson’s community housing.
Mayor Rachel Reese said Council had been exploring solutions for some time. “Housing affordability is a real problem in Nelson and it is increasing demand for spaces in our community housing. The community housing wait list has hit all-time highs this year and we can only accommodate a small number of those residents in need.”
Council’s community housing comprises 142 units within nine complexes. Most are over 40 years old.
Group Manager Strategy and Communications, Nicky McDonald, said that Council couldn’t reasonably ask ratepayers to fund $20 million of renewals for a service that only a very small number of residents could access. So a plea for help had been made to the government.
The Mayor expressed gratitude for the government’s responsiveness. “Once Minister Twyford and his officials realised the position we were in they were very supportive. Discussions have reached the point where we are now able to announce to the community that we are moving forward in partnership to find a solution”.
The Mayor also thanked the Nelson Tasman Housing Trust which currently manages the 142 units on behalf of Council and has offered to partner with Council to find a sustainable solution.
The aim is to bring existing units up to modern quality standards and to increase the amount of social housing available in Nelson. This could involve Housing New Zealand taking over all or part of the stock and the Nelson Tasman Housing Trust potentially developing some or all locations to provide a mix of social and affordable housing.
Housing New Zealand currently owns and manages about 565 properties in the Nelson City Council district.
Housing New Zealand’s Nelson Area Manager Dale Bradley said he was looking forward to working with the council, housing trust, stakeholders and tenants as the proposal was explored further.
The Mayor emphasised that this is the beginning of a process to develop a proposal Council can put to tenants and the wider community for feedback. All the partners agree the wellbeing of the current tenants will be paramount throughout the process.