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A Cosy Homes Charitable Trust has been established to help tackle significant health and housing-related problems in Dunedin, where nearly half of city households are experiencing ''fuel poverty''.
Many Dunedin residents were living in ''cold and uninsulated properties'', an Otago Regional Council panel heard in the city this week. The trust planned to employ a Cosy Homes project manager as soon as possible this year, and its aim was for everyone to be able to live ''in a warm and healthy home''.
Cosy Homes trustees include Scott Willis, manager of the Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust, as well as Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, and Gillian Bremner, chief executive of Presbyterian Support Otago.
Mrs Bremner made a submission to an ORC hearing this week, on its draft 2015-25 long-term plan.
She welcomed the ORC's existing support for the trust for ''the installation of clean heating appliances in targeted areas'' throughout Otago.
And the trust was requesting ORC funding of $20,000 to help with Cosy Homes operations, beyond the installation support.
This extra funding would enable the trust to employ staff, and said it was hoped to employ a project manager as soon as possible.
This manager would seek further funding for the trust organisation and develop and implement programmes to support its work.
The trust has also asked the Dunedin City Council to consider providing $75,000 from the DCC's Consumer Electricity Fund ($200,000) to support the trust.
This fund has been used to pay the power accounts of people who were ''struggling financially and unable to pay for their power accounts'', a DCC report has said.
The DCC report noted that many houses in Dunedin were ''comparatively old'' and poorly insulated, and healthcare was ''one of the biggest costs associated with poor quality housing''. Many young and old people were ''living with unnecessary respiratory conditions'' because of living in cold houses.
Dunedin city councillors will consider the request during deliberations on the DCC's proposed long-term plan, starting next Monday.
Mrs Bremner told regional councillors that some support was already available in the community for people with cold and uninsulated homes.
However, accessing such subsidised insulation or heating services remained a ''mystery'' for many people. The trust would also help with education, she said.
The Otago Cosy Homes organisation aimed to establish a ''one-stop shop'' and to develop and implement specific programmes to connect householders with ''service providers of insulation and heating'' and to educate householders about ''good energy practices and healthy homes environments''.
Mrs Bremner said Dunedin faced significant preventable illness challenges arising from its about 18,000 older, uninsulated and poorly heated houses, with an estimated 47% of households experiencing ''fuel poverty''.