Council reconfirms benefits of pending pensioner housing transfer

Published on 31 August 2017

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Horowhenua District Council has reconfirmed that the pending sale of its pensioner housing stock to Compassion Housing will benefit all, including tenants and the wider community.

Council’s pensioner housing portfolio includes 115 units at eight complexes in Levin, Foxton, Shannon and 1.1 hectare of land in Waimarie Park in Levin.

Council and Compassion Housing have committed to a long-standing relationship and are currently working through the sale and agreement process with due diligence.

At Council’s meeting last night, Councillor Ross Brannigan said that Council made its decision based on “all the information”, and following many meetings, workshops and discussions, with the end result being the best decision for the Horowhenua community.

“This is certainly not something done on a whim,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Wayne Bishop says the pending sale to Compassion Housing would allow the provision of affordable housing for the elderly to continue in a sustainable fashion without a large burden to ratepayers. 

The average age of portfolio 39.7 years, and the Council’s pending renewals consideration is that 50 - 60% will require replacement in the next 20-25 years at an approximate cost of $4.3M.

Also, there exists a $5.2m outstanding loan which would be transferred to Compassion Housing. This will reduce Council’s debt servicing provision by $367,000 annually.

In 2015 Council undertook an independent evaluation of options to improve the sustainability of social housing delivery in the Horowhenua District.

Council undertook a special public consultation process from 15 February 2016 to 18 March 2016 seeking public feedback on Council’s proposal that it no longer provided pension housing as a core Council service, that expressions of interest be sought from Community Housing Providers for the stock transfer of Council’s Pensioner Housing Portfolio, and that Council continued to take a leadership role in advocating and facilitating for wider community issues with regard to accessibility and affordability of quality housing stock.

Mr Bishop says that as part of a thorough and robust public consultation process, Council considered all submissions received.

“Councillors then had to make a decision about whether or not to proceed to seeking tenders. A majority of Councillors voted to do this,” he said.

“As with all consultations, and council decisions, these were carried out in an open, transparent and democratic manner. The only decision that was made in-Committee was the selection of the preferred provider – this was done due to commercial sensitivities and is common and expected practice in Local Government. Democracy is built on differing opinion and ideas, and these were considered by elected members who are charged with making decisions.”

At its meeting last night Council formally received a petition requesting it reconsiders selling its pensioner housing stock and undertake further public consultation.

Mr Bishop says that some of those who were opposed to the sale of social housing to a Community Housing Provider are not satisfied with the Council decision to proceed and have continued to advocate for it not to occur.

“Advocacy on issues is a democratic right of citizens and Council respects their right to voice an opinion or opposition.”