The agreement will put $12m from the sale into a 'housing reserve' to support affordable and social housing projects in Nelson. Photo: File

Council sells community housing for $20m

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Nelson City Council has sold its 142 community housing units to the Government for $19.8 million.

The council says the sale to Kāinga Ora is a mutually beneficial agreement that will increase investment in housing in Nelson, while retaining access to community housing for existing tenants.

The agreement will also put $12m from the sale into a ‘housing reserve’ to support affordable and social housing projects in Nelson.

The remainder of the money will held back for up to 15 years for any share of the costs required for units that may undergo retrofitting and renewal, consents for expanding the housing and rent top-ups, should any be necessary, for tenants who do not qualify for the government rent subsidy.

Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese says the sale follows a consultation last year that asked Nelsonians their thoughts on divesting the properties to a new provider.

Having heard and considered 79 submissions, council approved divestment in June 2019.

“The new housing reserve is excellent news for the community, and a resounding investment from Kāinga Ora in our Smart Little City. What’s more, this is an agreement that continues to prioritise the welfare of our existing community housing tenants.

“There will now be a handover period where our tenants will be supported as their tenancies switch to Kāinga Ora.”

Kāinga Ora was established on October 1, 2019 and is made up of HLC, Kiwibuild and Housing New Zealand.

Kāinga Ora area manager Dale Bradley says the organisation has a significant presence in Nelson and is looking forward to forming close relationships with community housing tenants.

“Kāinga Ora has many years of experience of running social housing, and our team of local staff are really excited and looking forward to meeting our new tenants and working to support them in their communities.’’

The new ownership under Kāinga Ora would take effect in February 2021.

In the lead-up to the transfer, council says it will work collaboratively with Kāinga Ora, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and the Nelson Tasman Housing Trust to ensure community housing tenants are well informed, reassured and supported.

Over the next few weeks, MSD staff will contact and support each tenant with an assessment, which all public housing tenants require, and make sure they are getting all the financial support they’re entitled to.

Waitlists for council community housing, Nelson Tasman Housing Trust housing and the MSD’s housing register for the region have been hitting all-time highs.

There has been just over a 100 per cent increase in applicants on the government’s housing register for Nelson since the 2018 Census and there are 20 times more applicants than five years ago.

Mayor Reese said the agreement with Kāinga Ora is a strong sign of both organisations’ commitment to improving the housing situation in Nelson.

“We know that the need for affordable and social housing is continuing to grow. This agreement is a significant opportunity to help provide quality housing for Nelsonians who might otherwise struggle to find a home on the private market.”

Kāinga Ora, as at June 30, owns 563 properties in the NCC Territorial Local Authority.

This comprises of 41 one-bedroom, 286 two-bedroom, 201 three-bedroom, 28 four-bedroom and 7 five-bedroom properties.

The NCC portfolio of properties is located across nine complexes providing 49 bedsits, 50 single and 48 double bedroom units for elderly tenants.

This transfer would therefore see Kāinga Ora’s presence in the Nelson community increase to owning and managing 705 properties.