The demand for community housing in Nelson continues to climb, with one local provider fielding five requests for housing a week – but only having five vacancies a year.
The Nelson Tasman Housing Trust owns 43 rental properties, and leases another two, offering them at 70-80 per cent of market rates.
But director Carrie Mozena says it’s not enough.
“It’s heartbreaking. We get so many people saying ‘gosh, I need for a house, do you have anything?'”
“But these are long-term secure rentals, so people only really move out of them if they are leaving town or need a bigger house.”
Nelson City Council also has 147 community housing units but say they have faced “increasing challenges” with maintaining and increasing stock.
Carrie says the cost of renting a home in Nelson is “diabolical”.
“It’s stressful for families on low incomes who are having to pay upwards of $400 per week for a three-bedroom home.”
“There’s no magic wand. We’re doing everything we can.”
Community housing was just one of the issues put under the spotlight at the Top of the South Impact Forum on Friday.
The forum provided an opportunity for community groups and residents to come together to explore ways to improve housing outcomes and share information on work already underway.
Affordable home-ownership, emergency accommodation, an “outdated” resource management plan and homelessness were also discussed.
Penny Molnar, from Community Action Nelson, said they had been “pushing for a forum for years” and were glad to finally see it happen.
Housing New Zealand area manager Dale Bradley was able to share some positive news – that their first new homes for Nelson in 15 years are due to be finished and tenanted by 27 September.
They are four, one-bedroom properties on Kawai St.
Another four, two-bedroom properties will be ready by mid-October, with more on the way in stage two, he said.
Housing New Zealand currently houses 3,192 people in the region, with 191 people seeking homes in the past year.
Carrie says the forum was a good opportunity for groups and individuals to put their heads together.
“But now we need to see some action.”