The motel bought by a private individual for use as transitional housing. PHOTO/FILE

PAM GRAHAM
pam.graham@age.co.nz

Trust House has more than 100 households on its waitlist in Masterton, a transitional housing provider with seven houses is at capacity and, in March, Women’s Refuge turned down 16 women or families.

These are some of the insights into pressures on housing in Masterton district in a draft report that went going to yesterday’s Masterton District Council meeting.

The report is the first step towards the completion of a housing strategy for Masterton, part of the council’s well-being strategy.

It examines home affordability, the rental market, and social and transitional housing.

There are 10,280 households in the district, and 7090, or 69 per cent, own their own home.

A third rent, and 8.1 per cent can afford market rents and could buy.

Five hundred and sixty households, or 5.4 per cent, can’t afford to buy even the cheapest house, a further 100, or 1 per cent, can’t afford median market rents, while 1240, or 12.1 per cent, can’t afford to pay the lowest quarter of market rents.

There are 360 households in social housing and 100 are in emergency housing or are homeless.

“There is currently no data available for levels of homelessness in Masterton, but anecdotally, we understand it is on the rise,” the report said.

In March this year, Women’s Refuge turned down 16 women or families.

“These are people who do not meet the domestic violence criteria, but who are homeless or have a myriad of other issues,” the report said.

Wairarapa Women’s Refuge had always been flexible and tried to assist other agencies, the report said, but it was now adhering strictly to its criteria because once a family was in the safehouse it was difficult to move them on.

The report said non-government organisation Emerge Aotearoa provided transitional housing to people on the social housing register through a contract with the Ministry of Social Development.

It has seven transitional houses in Masterton, but all were at capacity.

A private individual has purchased the Colonial Cottage Motel on Chapel St to provide a further 11 transitional housing units, to be managed by Emerge Aotearoa by the end of this year.

In 1999, the former government sold all its Wairarapa housing stock to Trust House which, as a registered community housing provider, owns 362 houses in Masterton.

All houses were occupied, the report said, and there was a waitlist of more than 100 households.

Under the government’s Public Housing Plan 2018-2022, MSD intends to purchase 50 net additional public housing Income Related Rent Subsidy places in the Masterton district.

The council also provides senior housing and anyone meeting eligibility criteria can be put on MDC’s waitlist.

Units are essentially allocated on a first-in-first-served basis rather than being allocated based on need.

The council’s properties and facilities team wants to review this process and allocate units based on need, the report said.

The report also found stresses in the rental market as demand for good quality, affordable rental housing in Masterton exceeded the availability of suitable properties.

Rents had risen relatively sharply in recent years, with a 6.4 per cent increase in the year to March 2017, and a 6.2 per cent increase in the year to March 2018.

The final report will be published on August 14.