Alex McKenzie, Glenn Brewerton and Andy Swanson of Habitat for Humanity at the build site for their new units. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Giving vulnerable elderly a helping hand

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A new venture by Habitat for Humanity in Nelson will see vulnerable elderly people helped into subsided housing near the hospital.

It is the first time the non-profit has moved into offering rentals. It usually runs on an assisted home ownership model where people pay rent to Habitat, which is held, and then becomes a deposit they use to buy the home off the organisation.

“A couple of years ago we did an assessment and we saw there are a huge number of vulnerable elderly people who can’t afford to go into fancy retirement villages,” says Habitat’s manager Glenn Brewerton. “This was a need we identified.”

So it decided to start building on a plot of land it bought about seven years ago. The three units will be specially for elderly and act as subsided rentals at about 80 percent of the market rate.

However, the weather hasn’t been kind to the team.

“We work with volunteers. Everyone, bar one, is down here is working in their own time,” says Glenn. “It’s not the fastest way to build but it is the most affordable way.”

Habitat is now looking for tenants for the units which are built with accessible showers and reinforced walls to protect against bumps from things like wheelchairs.

They are close to completing the units on Tipahi St just opposite Nelson Hospital. Glenn says the location is no accident. It also sits next to another property the organisation purchased, which is now being leased by the Salvation Army to use as emergency housing.

“Our whole being is based on helping people who struggle,” says director Rob Silcock.

Anyone who wants to express interest in the units for vulnerable elderly people should email nelsonadmin@habitat.org.nz