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Trust House chief resigns

Wairarapa social housing provider Trust House has confirmed chief executive Charles Kaka has resigned, effective immediately.

The organisation and its now-former chief executive have recently been under fire for a decision to significantly increase the rent of its social housing tenants.

A Trust House press release, which was supplied after the Times-Age sought confirmation of Kaka’s resignation, is in the form of the following statement from Trust House Board of Directors chair Mena Antonio:

“Charles has decided that the time is right for him to explore other opportunities. He joined Trust House in 2020 and we are grateful to Charles for the past two and half years’ service as our CEO.

“In that time, Charles has connected with an extensive range of community groups and leaders. He has had a strong focus on asset management planning and ensured the organisation’s Te Whare Tapa Wha wellbeing model was adopted during a very challenging time.

“His expertise in asset management has meant that Trust House now has a transformative asset management plan and housing improvement programme. Work has already started on renovating our existing housing and new social housing is under construction.

“Also under Charles’ leadership, the Ka Ora Ka Ako free school lunch program has grown to now feed lunch to more than 3500 tamariki a day.”

Kaka was approached by the Times-Age for comment but had not responded at press time.

A spokesperson for Trust House said a new chief executive was expected to be appointed within a week.

On January 23 the Times-Age reported 478 Trust House tenants had been informed that, from April, their rents would be increased by 60 per cent on average [the biggest increase was 153 per cent, the smallest 15 per cent].

After mounting public criticism of the decision, the trust partially relented two weeks ago, announcing a reprieve for 189 of its 478 tenants while a review of its housing improvement programme was carried out. Prior to this, Kaka told the Times-Age the intended rent rises were in line with current market rents and were necessary to ensure the trust had sufficient funds available for repairs, maintenance, renovation and future development of its housing stock.

Last week, before his resignation, Kaka gave the Times-Age a tour of one of its houses that had recently been upgraded, located in central Masterton.

The refurbishment of the three-bedroomed home is impressive – it is warm, dry, rewired, reroofed, recarpeted, recently painted and insulated, with environmentally compliant water heating and a facility which can be modified to charge an EV.

However, such improvements clearly come at a price.

“Each renovated property at this stage is $100,000. We think that number will go up to $150,000,” Kaka said at the time.

He noted funds for the renovations – the trust has so far “done about 10” of its houses – came from a variety of sources, including debt.

“We’ve got about $23 million worth of debt,” he said.

Today at 3pm, Trust House’s major shareholder, Masterton Community Trust, is holding its annual public meeting at Farriers in Masterton.

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