Community housing decision put on hold

A decision on whether the Southland District Council will approve $50,000 for a business case on its community housing has been put on hold.

A report by property services manager Kevin McNaught presented at this week’s council meeting recommended it approve the funding to help councillors make a decision about the future of its community housing — including whether to divest.

Several councillors disagreed with taking $50,000 of unbudgeted expenditure from the community housing reserve account.

Cr Ebel Kremer said staff already had enough relevant experience and knowledge.

"I cannot believe we’re going to spend $50K trying to work out what we don’t know when we’ve been looking at this for so many years."

In 2018, a report by Morrison Low recommended the council opt out of community housing, however the council agreed further analysis and reporting was needed.

Mayor Gary Tong agreed the council had enough knowledge already "in-house" to come up with a plan and resolution.

Cr George Harpur said it was the second time divesting from community housing had been discussed and "nothing has happened".

There were 69 units in the council’s community housing stock, in 10 townships.

Of those, five units were vacant, and 52 were tenanted by pensioners.

Several issues had been identified, including affordability of managing the stock and appropriate rental rates, a lack of clarity about need and purpose, stock’s suitability in terms of condition and location, and regulations.

Councillors agreed a workshop would be held to determine the future of community housing.

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