The uncertainty facing tenants of the Moana Court flats in Titahi Bay looks set to continue for a few months yet.
Porirua City Council has stepped back from a recommendation to sell or lease the management of its sole stake in social housing, to explore more options.
Residents of the 24 bedsits and two single room flats opposed to Moana Court being sold, will be relieved it hasn’t happened yet, but probably won’t welcome months more of not knowing.
Notable in its absence from the council’s media statement last Friday was any reference to the Public Works Act condition requiring that, in the event of sale, land no longer needed for public work be first offered back to the former owners.
This bureaucratic snag was the reason for the council shutting out the public at last week’s meeting, and for growing unease among tenants who realised this could jeopardise the council’s ability to sell the property with social housing safeguards.
We can presume the Act has something to do with the council’s decision to step back and take another look at its options for Moana Court, but mayor Nick Leggett couldn’t have been more emphatic in the council’s intent.
He said Moana Court was built to provide elderly residents in financial need with a secure and lowcost house, and the council was committed to ensuring this would not change.
It’s a stance that has changed little since the proposal was first floated in March. But when it comes to one’s home, people can get very emotional, as evidenced as last week’s council meeting.
During public speaking time, Moana Court resident Robert Overend barely got through introductions without breaking down. He spoke of tenants’ affinity for Moana Court, being able to ‘‘shuffle’’ between home and the Titahi Bay shops.
Mr Overend accepted residents may be able to find other accommodation, if forced to move, but not with the same relationship they have with their environment and the Bay community.
It was a heartfelt dedication, but one I believe would be familiar to many Porirua residents, be they homeowners or tenants, who have had to leave the home they love but can’t afford.
By its own account, the council cannot afford Moana Court, though some tenants have disputed the claim $650,000 of improvements are needed to bring the flats up to a modern standard.
We sympathise with the tenants – most of them are at the stage of their lives when the last thing they need to worry about is the roof over their head – and are confident a positive way forward can be achieved that benefits all parties.
But there is also a cold hard truth that dealing with uncertainty is just part of life for a tenant.
There can be many advantages to renting instead of owning one’s abode, but rarely is longterm security one of them.
Matthew Dallas, Editor.