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Plan to tackle lack of senior housing units

Work is underway to tackle growing demand for senior housing units in Wairarapa.

Across the region, a shortage of senior housing units is seeing people sitting on waiting lists for years.

In Masterton, 60 people are currently on the senior housing waiting list. Half of those have been on the list for more than a year.

Meanwhile, there are 32 senior housing units in South Wairarapa, all of which are fully occupied and in high demand.

Carterton doesn’t operate any social housing.

Local providers have been working with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development [MHUD] to address the problem.

A MHUD spokesperson said the ministry aimed to increase the overall housing supply across New Zealand. The spokesperson acknowledged the need for public housing for seniors who may not be able to attain home ownership or afford market rentals.

They said the ministry was looking at opportunities in Wairarapa to increase public housing generally.

“This housing would be suitable for seniors and other members of the public who need public housing. At this stage, we can’t give specifics about what these opportunities might be because they are subject to commercial negotiations.”

Trust House Chief Executive Charles Kaka said Trust House was working with the MHUD to help provide some senior housing solutions.

“MHUD has encouraged us to focus on two groups of people – the 55+ demographic and people with limited mobility.

“We are of the view that targeting new purpose-built houses for these two groups is a more cost-effective option than renovating our older homes.

“A recent meeting yesterday [Thursday, December 15] with representatives from all three of the Wairarapa councils was unanimous in their support of this approach.”

MHUD said Kainga Ora was also working to increase the supply of public housing in the region.

Kainga Ora action regional director Greater Wellington Region Kathy Furfie said Kainga Ora had acquired four housing sites in Wairarapa and Taararua.

“We have purchased two sites in Greytown and Woodville and have signed contracts with Jennian Homes and Westwood properties to acquire new housing developments in Masterton.

“These agreements will see around 50 much-needed public homes created for the region.”

Furfie said the two Masterton developments would see 30 new homes delivered.

Of those, 18 homes would be delivered in early 2023 at Irons St which would be a mix of typologies including homes where accessibility could easily be achieved with very few changes.

“We are also looking at other options in the area for housing that best meet accessibility requirements.

“Our Accessibility Policy commits to achieving full universal design standard on 15 per cent of all new build homes.

“We undertake a range of modifications to existing homes to better meet the needs of our customers, and currently have around 5,600 homes that have undergone some form of modification such as additional handrails, wet area bathrooms, widened doorways and visual smoke alarms. “

George Shiers
George Shiers
George Shiers is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age interested in politics and social issues. He reports regularly on a range of topics including infrastructure, housing, and transport. George is also the Tararua reporter and helps cover police, fire and court stories.

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