At the Community and Culture Committee meeting today, elected members agreed to seek community feedback on whether Council should divest its Elder Housing portfolio to one or more registered community housing providers.
The decision comes after an in-depth investigation of how best to provide Elder Housing services in Tauranga.
Elected members were presented with a report that compared the Elder Housing provision as it currently stands against two alternative delivery options: divesting to one or more registered community housing providers or setting up a lease agreement with a community housing provider/s.
Community and Culture Committee Chair, Terry Molloy, says that the main objective throughout the review process has been to ensure that 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, and with access to better wellbeing services and affordable housing,” says Cr Molloy.
The report included the findings from a full financial analysis, as well as independent property and legal investigations. It identified that divesting the portfolio to one or more approved community housing provider would be the most viable option to meet the long-term needs of current and future tenants.
Community housing providers are community based, not-for-profit organisations focused solely on meeting the needs of a wide range of low and moderate income groups. They are better placed to provide all tenants with access to wraparound services and new tenants with access to income related rent subsidies (IRRS). Any profits are reinvested back into providing services and housing, with the goal of delivering long-term housing affordability.
“We are committed to finding the best outcome so that tenants have access to fit-for-purpose, affordable housing in Tauranga, and that includes protecting the welfare and tenure of our current tenants. Community housing providers can deliver long term sustainability and portfolio growth to meet future demand, something that Council is unable to achieve on its own under present IRRS conditions,” says Cr Molloy.
As the Committee has now approved the recommendation, it will go to a full Council meeting on 21 November. The decision made at this meeting will then be included as part of the next Long Term Plan, where it will be publicly consulted in March/April 2018.
“There will be an opportunity for the community to have their say through the public consultation process next year. We want the outcome to be in the best interests of the community, especially current and future tenants, so it is important that we receive public feedback,” says Cr Molloy.
The feedback received will be considered before a final decision is made in June 2018.
Council recently carried out a Section 17A review of its Elder Housing portfolio, operations and future service delivery, ahead of the 2018–28 Long Term Plan. The Local Government Act requires Council to periodically review the way a number of services are provided.
The New Zealand Housing Foundation (NZHF), an independent charitable trust, was commissioned by Council to review its current Elder Housing portfolio and service delivery while taking into account future demand for Elder Housing in Tauranga. NZFH provided a report on how this service can best be delivered in the future.
The report recommended that Council sell its portfolio to a community housing provider (CHP). It also provided the option of Council retaining ownership and partnering with a CHP. Both options underwent an in-depth investigation.
Council also established a tenant advisory group and working group. A tenant from each of the nine Elder Housing villages in Tauranga made up the tenant advisory group. Representatives from a range of community organisations, government agencies, technical experts and a representative from the tenant advisory group, formed the working group.
Council has 246 Elder Housing units spread across nine villages in Greerton, Mount Maunganui and Tauranga Central.