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Social housing: Six units empty for five months

Six brand new Trust House social housing units on Kuripuni St in Masterton are still vacant, despite being completed in October last year.

The new units are all on ground level and are designed to provide easier accessibility and lower maintenance to suit existing Trust House tenants who are over 55 years of age and whose current properties don’t fit their needs.

Trust House chief executive John Prendergast – who declined to specify the cost of the development for commercial reasons, beyond it being “in line with average local building costs” – said the units will be fully occupied once the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development [MHUD] responds to a request for government rent subsidy funding.

“Subject to receiving MHUD approval, it is intended that the houses will be rented in association with the government’s Income Related Rent Subsidy Scheme [IRRS],” Prendergast said.

“With IRRS, the tenants pay rent capped at 25% of their income, and the government subsidises the rest of the rental, with the total rental being based on independent rental valuations.”

According to a MHUD spokesperson, Trust House made its final application for IRRS funding for the Kuripuni St property “late last year” and “additional information needed to undertake our full consideration was received in February of this year”.

“MHUD has a process that we follow to consider all social housing development proposals, and we anticipate advising Trust House of the outcome of their application in the near future,” the spokesperson said.

Prendergast told the Times-Age there is a “clearly demonstrated” need for social housing and noted there’s currently another Trust House development on Ōpaki Rd to address the issue.

He also welcomed the recent return of national social housing provider Kāinga Ora to the region last year after a 25-year absence.

“They have announced a pipeline of housing developments that will soon begin to come on stream, further increasing the supply of houses in the region,” he said.

Last month, Prendergast said, Trust House convened a meeting of organisations involved in the provision of housing in Wairarapa, where it was agreed that Trust House will lead the development of a collaborative Wairarapa Housing Strategy.

“This is intended to determine housing needs in the region now and looking forward and identify how collectively these needs can be addressed,” he said.

“The strategy will be a joint effort between Trust House, councils, iwi, Pasifika, Kainga Ora, Ministry of Social Development, and MHUD, and will also involve other community housing providers.”

A spokesperson from Kim’s Way Night Refuge told the Times-Age “the need for this social housing is definitely there” and said there are an estimated 15-20 people in Masterton who “suffer extreme homelessness, not counting couch surfers and car sleepers”.

1 COMMENT

  1. Driving Masterton streets mid-morning, one spots several rough sleepers, all with bags, wearing coats in the sun, awake after a cool-to-cold mostly outside night. Mostly middle age to elderly. Yet, social housing – “social housing,” units sit empty, not available to these dispossessed locals.
    Are we missing something? Yes, this group can’t pay the rent. So, is “social housing” not a social support after all the hoo-ha about filling the housing gap. Instead, social housing owners are just another group of rent-takers.

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