Housing crisis

Masterton Community Trust member Jock Kershaw at the new Kuripuni social housing flats. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN

KAREN COLTMAN

karen.coltman@age.co.nz

Highest polling Masterton district councillor and third-highest polling candidate in the Masterton Community Trust election Bex Johnson is pleased to be straddling both organisations, the latter major shareholder of Trust House Limited.

“I’m rapt, I’ve always been a fan of the trust,” Johnson, the only newcomer on the trust’s six-person board, said.

She has a clear view on the way ahead on the controversial subject of social housing.

“The Lands Trust, Council and Trust House need to collaborate on a Wairarapa housing strategy,” Johnson said.

“Let’s look at all the elements to map how we get there, that’s what we can focus on, the future.”

She pointed to the Trust House social housing development in Kuripuni as a good example of what could be achieved.

“With council land and Trust House input this could be how we do it.”

Johnson said it’s time to be positive and forward looking.

“I’m not negative, I am known for finding the solutions.”

Current community trust chair Jock Kershaw was voted back on with the biggest majority.

He has been a director of Trust House limited for 15 years. He said he’s proud of the Kuripuni social housing development where it knocked down one state house and replaced it with eight new dwellings.

“With more requirements on private landlords, many are getting out of it,” Kershaw said. “I would like us to do another one but at this stage it looks like government are unlikely to help, despite the talk. We will work towards this anyway.

“Keep in mind that the trust has only just come right after reducing staff overheads and releasing unprofitable operations. We are in a good position and I am proud of that.”

But he said they don’t have “millions of dollars slushing around” and it’s not good to borrow against social housing assets.

Kershaw said he is passionate to see money going back into the community he’s lived in for forty years. It was to ensure the gaming money stayed in the community that drove him to get involved initially.

“We keep gaming outlets going as well as we can, and I still believe the profits should come back to the community where help is needed rather than elsewhere, which is what would happen if we let it go.

“It’s nice to be in a position where I can help on the trust. Approving grants for good causes in the community is a part of the job I enjoy.”

He said it’s not been good to have “aggressive and negative campaigns” against the trust and like Bex Johnson he said, “it is time to look forward”.