Compassion Housing will deliver community housing in Horowhenua

Published on 03 October 2017

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Compassion logo. 

        

Existing Horowhenua District Council Community Housing tenancy agreements are secured, and residents will now receive an increased level of service aimed at improving well-being and decreasing isolation.

Registered community housing provider, Compassion Housing which has 17 years’ experience in the sector will manage Horowhenua District Council’s 115 units in Levin, Foxton and Shannon.

Following public consultation, Council decided to seek interest from registered community housing providers, followed by a period of due diligence – the process is now completed.

Compassion Housing is part of the Sisters of Compassion Group, who helped develop New Zealand’s social safety net in the 1890s, and it will manage the community housing portfolio. The portfolio will be owned by Compassion Horowhenua – an equal shareholding between the Sisters of Compassion and Willis Bond & Co private investors. The two have a long-standing relationship.

Horowhenua District Council’s Community Wellbeing Chair, Barry Judd says it is a fantastic result for tenants and ratepayers alike.

“Compassion Housing is committed to helping their residents participate in the community, maintain a healthy lifestyle and prevent isolation from occurring – this is a level of service that is increasingly necessary, but which Council has been unable to provide.”

“Now, is the time for us to come together and welcome the Sisters of Compassion to our community. They will become a valuable addition to the social fabric of our growing community and be involved with the Community and Wellbeing Committee,” says Cr Judd.

Sister Margaret Anne Mills, the Congregational Leader of the Sisters of Compassion says they are committed to Levin, Shannon and Foxton for the long term.

“We will deliver sustainable, affordable, inclusive and high-quality housing using our collective expertise,” she says.

“Our residents will have access to regular nursing visits and other services for the elderly.”

Founded in 1892 by Mother Suzanne Aubert, who is in the process of being recognised as New Zealand’s first Catholic saint, their mission is to bring to those disadvantaged in society love and care.

The Sisters’ activities include the Compassion soup kitchen facility in Wellington which has been operating since 1901, a learning and spiritual centre in Jerusalem (Whanganui), a rest home hospital and Alzheimers Unit at Heretaunga in Upper Hutt, a home for women with disabilities in Suva, Fiji and many other forms of assistance to those in need. Sisters of Compassion have been providing services to the elderly more than 100 years.

Horowhenua District Council’s Group Manager Community Services, Sharon Grant says Council officers will now begin the process of handing over the operation of the tenancies to Compassion Housing.

“I want to publically acknowledge the wonderful work of our community housing officer who has maintained strong relationships with our tenants over the years. Her asset management role within Council’s Parks and Property Team will continue.”

Sisters of Compassion Chief Executive Gerard McGreevy has welcomed the sale and says the transfer process will now begin.

“Our team is looking forward to having a long-term relationship both with our existing residents and the communities of Shannon, Foxton and Levin. We are experienced at providing housing solutions for the elderly. We will continue to do that in an affordable manner to ensure vulnerable residents have options and are able to live and participate in a caring, connected environment.”

The sale of community housing is made up of 115 units distributed across eight complexes in Levin, where 97% are based, Foxton and Shannon. The average age of portfolio is 39.7 years, and 50 - 60% will require replacement in the next 20-25 years at an approx. cost of $4.3M. A $5.2m outstanding loan is included in the sale and 1.1 hectares of land adjacent to Waimarie Park which will be held for the future provision of affordable housing. Alongside this, Compassion Housing will receive a rates remission as per Council’s rates remission policy.

Horowhenua District Council Chief Financial Officer Doug Law says the resulting sale will see Council’s debt servicing provision reduced by $367,000 per annum.