Council is working through the sale of its elder housing villages to one or more community housing providers. Throughout this process, tenant wellbeing remains the number one priority, that includes protecting tenants’ tenure and rent affordability.
What’s happening now?
We have been gathering lots of information on the different sale options. This process is very much focused on getting the best possible result for our tenants.
The different sale options will go in a report to Council in October 2020 when the mayor and councillors will provide feedback on their preferred option. Only then will we go out with expressions of interest and start talking to community housing providers.
We’re also in the process of hiring a tenant support liaison. This person will be dedicated to working with our tenants to ensure they have the support and information they need during the sale process.
Why is council selling?
Simply, because someone else can do it better. Government policy doesn’t support councils to run this activity effectively, so we are climbing an uphill battle.
Right now in Tauranga, council has 246 units across nine villages. But that is not enough to keep up with the rapidly growing demand for affordable elder housing. Over one third of the units are around 50 years old and none are less than 25 years old. That means many units have less than 10 years of useful life remaining before significant modernisation, and in many cases redevelopment, is required to bring them up to current housing standards.
If we want to do the right thing to ensure our city’s elder housing tenants are receiving the best possible service to meet their needs, now and in the future, then selling to a community housing provider is our best option.
Who are community housing providers and why can they do it better?
Community housing providers are community based, not-for-profit organisations focused solely on providing affordable social rental housing.
Unlike councils, they have access to central government funding to run this activity. That also puts them in a far better position to upgrade, replace and increase stock.
On top of that, where council can only act as a landlord, community housing providers offer much more. They can provide tenants with access to wraparound services (budgeting advice, disability support, etc) and new tenants with access to income related rent subsidies (IRRS).
Community housing providers are structured so that profits are reinvested back into providing services and housing, with the goal of delivering long-term housing affordability.
Caring for our tenants
Through the sale of the villages we want to achieve a number of important outcomes – like security of tenure and keeping rents affordable for existing tenants. In addition, we are considering how we can ensure additional units are built and that all units are to a higher standard. This might mean tenants are moved to new accommodation to enable the improvements to take place. At all times, tenants will have a place to call home.
We meet regularly with our tenant advisory group (a tenant rep from each village) who we share updates with and who guides us on how the remaining tenants are feeling. This group has been invaluable, and we are very grateful for their time.
We are also in the process of hiring a tenant support liaison. This person will be dedicated to tenants during the sale process and will be available to answer and questions or concerns they may have.
All of our current tenants will continue to have an affordable place to live, now and in the future.
Updates to tenants on the sale progress
Sale of elder housing villages update - August 2020 (105kb pdf)
In 2017, Council carried out a review of its elder housing portfolio, operations and future service delivery. The review comprised three elements – an independent report by the New Zealand Housing Foundation, tenant engagement through the establishment of a tenant advisory group, and wider stakeholder engagement through the establishment of a working group.
The initial findings were presented to the Community and Culture Committee meeting on 8 August 2017. The committee agreed that council should progress with its investigation into how best to provide elder housing services in Tauranga with a more in-depth investigation into two options:
- Council retains ownership of the elder housing portfolio and partners with a community housing provider
- Council divests the current elder housing portfolio to a community housing provider
New Zealand Housing Foundation report (1.2mb pdf)
The findings from the in-depth investigation were presented to the Community and Culture Committee meeting on 14 November 2017. The committee agreed to seek community feedback on whether council should divest its elder housing portfolio to one or more registered community housing providers, through the 2018-28 Long Term Plan.
Option analysis report (389kb pdf) Business case proposal (473kb pdf)
One of Council’s key priorities is to provide a higher standard of living for all residents and ensure that our city’s elder housing tenants are receiving the best possible service to meet their needs, now and in the future. Tenant welfare has been the primary consideration, with an agreed outcome that tenants are no worse off than before, with access to better well-being services and affordable housing.
A total of 2050 submissions were received on the elder housing topic during the Long Term Plan community consultation process.
758 (37%) were in support of option 1 (retaining the status quo)
843 (41%) were in support of option 2 (to divest to an approved community housing provider)
449 (22%) selected neither option
The mayor and councillors emphasised the welfare of elderly tenants was the number one consideration in the decision to divest. The welfare of current tenants will be protected through the use of covenants to ensure tenure, rent stability and retention of numbers of units.
Any money raised from the sales of the nine villages – 246 units – will be set aside in a reserve for elder or social housing-related use.
If you would like further information, please contact Fiona Nalder or Karen Healey on 07 577 7000.
Last Reviewed: 29/07/2020