Trust House chief executive Allan Pollard says his organisation has plenty of land on which to build, but needs government investment. PHOTO/FILE
In 15 years working at Trust House, Allan Pollard says demand for social housing in Wairarapa has never been higher.
The organisation’s chief executive is now calling for government investment to allow the rapid building of dozens of homes to alleviate that demand.
“I have never seen demand like it. Trust House has never seen demand like it.”
Of the trust’s 477 rentals throughout Wairarapa and in Tararua, only four are currently unoccupied.
One is being redeveloped for an ACC client who has special access needs, one in Dannevirke is badly methamphetamine contaminated, and two Masterton properties are being renovated.
There were 70 people on their housing waiting list.
Mr Pollard said the trust did regular inspections of its properties, and had no evidence of overcrowding, and there were no people living in garages for the simple reason they didn’t have any.
He said with a new government coming in there were opportunities to work in partnership.
“We have the land, the government can pay for the improvements.”
The trust has properties on large section blocks where, if the existing house was knocked down, 12-15 “state-of-the-art” houses could be built in their place.
The trust was nearing completion of eight units in Kuripuni, Mr Pollard said.
“We think we could build 30-40 more in the existing land that we’ve got – easily.
“Working with the government, we could cure a lot of the problems in Wairarapa relatively quickly.”
Mr Pollard also said there needed to be a law change to allow existing community housing tenants access – should they qualify – to income-related rent subsidies.
As the law stands, only new tenants can access those subsidies, even though the majority of Trust House tenants would qualify, as at least 80 per cent received some form of benefit.
Data from the government’s Tenancy Services division show that market rent for a three-bedroom house in Masterton ranges from $280-$350 per week, while the trust charges $246.
Market rent for a three-bedroom Masterton flat is between $278-$322 per week.
Trust House charges $185.
New MP supports government role
Masterton-based Labour MP Kieran McAnulty is in no doubt who should be in charge of making sure everyone has a roof over their head.
“I firmly believe it is central government’s role to provide affordable housing,” he said.
The list MP is in a unique position being both in Parliament and a trustee of the Masterton Community Trust.
He was also, until recently, a director of Trust House Limited.
Mr McAnulty said there needed to be more social housing stock in Wairarapa, and he had spoken to new Housing Minister Phil Twyford about the issue.
He planned to get the minister and Mr Pollard together to discuss the Wairarapa situation.
It was “a disgrace” that existing social housing tenants did not qualify for income-related rent subsidies, he said.
Mr McAnulty strongly disagreed with the stance taken by Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott, who downplayed the seriousness of the region’s housing situation.
“To suggest that there’s no issue, he is totally out of touch.
“If you talk to the right people it doesn’t take long to get an idea of how serious the situation is.”