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$1 million upgrade a rental reprieve

Artist’s impression of the Abbeyfield expansion. IMAGE/SUPPLIED

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A $1 million upgrade and construction of four new rooms for over 65-year-olds in hardship is expected to get under way at Abbeyfield Masterton in a few months.

Abbeyfield residents are independent, but selection is based on financial, housing, and social need. The Church St house in Masterton has 10 studio rooms but a waiting list of 20 people.

At a meeting there last week, Masterton mayor Lyn Patterson said she knew of many Masterton residents working well beyond their retirement age and still in a rental home.

“They are struggling to pay the rent in a house by themselves,” Patterson said.

“The shared housing model is a solution for them because it is cheaper and more secure.

“We need more of this type of social housing.

“There are limited options for older folk who lose their rental because they just can’t afford the rents being asked these days. Homelessness for elderly is a growing problem.”

Abbeyfield New Zealand chief executive Susan Jenkins said a main reason people wanted shared accommodation was to escape loneliness.

“Isolation and loneliness are serious hurdles to happiness for single retired people,” Jenkins said.

“They are independent but struggling and this can lead to ill health and poor personal care.

“Shared housing where people are independent but come together for meals was proven to help hold off medical care for elderly.

“This type of living keeps people out of hospital.”

Abbeyfield volunteers have raised nearly $100,000 towards the expansion but the trust planned to get a mortgage for the rest.

Rent from the new rooms was expected to cover the mortgage but Abbeyfield volunteers and the chief executive were talking with the government to secure an operational supplement as a social housing provider.

“It’s exciting that we are part of the solution to New Zealand’s housing crisis,” Jenkins said.

Abbeyfield Masterton committee chairwoman Jude Clark said Wairarapa businesses supported the project, offering in-kind support.

The house is managed by Abbeyfield Masterton, a non-profit organisation run by volunteers.

It was established in 1996.

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