15 November 2016
Waipa District Council is considering a major new investment in pensioner housing.
The council already has 127 pensioner housing units in its district housing 138 tenants. Tenants pay market rates for the units; rents are not subsidised by ratepayers.
Waipa mayor Jim Mylchreest signalled today his Council was considering selling its existing pensioner housing complex at Palmer Street in Te Awamutu to a local housing charity, Habitat for Humanity Central North Island (CNI). Habitat already owns and operates Freeman Court, a supported independent living complex next to the Palmer Street units.
If the sale went ahead existing Palmer Street tenants would be guaranteed a unit for life with rents at or below market rate. If tenants wanted to move, they would be offered a priority place at any of Council’s other pensioner housing units, including brand new units to be built in and around Te Awamutu from the proceeds of the sale.
Mylchreest said the potential sale was a “win-win” for existing tenants, Council and the wider community.
“Council has been working hard for some time to make sure we come up with the best option for the future of the Palmer Street site and for our tenants. I believe the sale will not only benefit our current tenants but it will help meet the demands of our ageing population by offering increased pensioner housing options,” he said.
“With some very specific conditions attached, the sale is something Council needs to seriously consider.”
He said there would be a buy-back clause in the contract, giving Council first rights to re-purchase the property should Habitat for Humanity wish to sell at a later date.
Mylchreest said selling the Palmer St complex could net the Council around $1.7 - $1.9 million. That money would be “completely ring-fenced” for new pensioner housing, he said.
“In 2014 we renewed our pensioner housing policy and committed to increasing our housing stock to cater for the district’s ageing population. This is a way we can do that, while improving conditions for existing tenants. I think this is a very sensible way forward but let’s work through it slowly and carefully and see what tenants and the community think.”
Habitat for Humanity CNI general manager Nic Greene said there were some “excellent synergies” between the Palmer Street units and next door Freeman Court, with the potential for neighbouring residents to share resources and services.
“As an accredited social landlord, Habitat has access to a wide range of funding opportunities that the council can’t access.”
The Mayor and councillors met with the Palmer Street tenants today to discuss the potential sale and will discuss it formally at the Council meeting on 16 December. If Council agrees in principle to proceed with the sale, formal consultation with the tenants and wider community will take place in March next year.
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