Otago Daily Times

Com­mu­nity hous­ing cull pro­posed as best op­tion

SOUTH­LAND

- LUISA GIRAO luisa.girao@odt.co.nz Business · Society · Southland, Texas

SOUTH­LAND Dis­trict Coun­cil will have a closer look at its com­mu­nity hous­ing ac­tiv­i­ties af­ter a re­port said its best op­tion was for the coun­cil to sim­ply shut the scheme down.

Coun­cil will con­sider this week the ap­proval of a busi­ness case to iden­tify all the is­sues and op­tions for the fu­ture of com­mu­nity hous­ing through­out the dis­trict.

Man­ager Prop­erty Ser­vices Kevin McNaught said there were 69 units in the coun­cil’s com­mu­nity houses, sit­u­ated in 10 dif­fer­ent town­ships.

From those, five were va­cant and 78%, or 52 units, were ten­anted by pen­sion­ers.

He said there were nu­mer­ous ‘‘is­sues’’ as­so­ci­ated with this ac­tiv­ity, in­clud­ing af­ford­abil­ity of man­ag­ing the ac­tiv­ity and main­tain­ing ap­pro­pri­ate rental rates; a lack of clar­ity around need and pur­pose for the ac­tiv­ity; re­sourc­ing; suit­abil­ity of cur­rent stock in terms of con­di­tion and lo­ca­tion; and an in­creas­ingly reg­u­lated en­vi­ron­ment.

‘‘Deal­ing with these has made the op­er­a­tions and fu­ture plan­ning for this ac­tiv­ity very chal­leng­ing.’’

He sug­gested coun­cil should ap­prove the scope of a busi­ness case to ex­plore the op­tions and to ap­prove an un­bud­geted ex­pen­di­ture up to $50,000 so the project could get go­ing.

The $50,000 cost would be al­lo­cated from the com­mu­nity hous­ing re­serve.

The re­quest fol­lowed a de­ci­sion made on Fe­bru­ary 2018 when coun­cil­lors re­ceived a re­port which was car­ried by the man­age­ment con­sult­ing firm Mor­ri­son Low about the ser­vice de­liv­ery mod­els for var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties in the com­mu­nity ser­vices area.

From the ac­tiv­i­ties in­ves­ti­gated, the re­port author chose a ‘‘pre­ferred op­tion’’ for coun­cil to cease to pro­vide com­mu­nity hous­ing at an agreed time, be­cause as that would ‘‘re­move any risk’’ to coun­cil, plus would have a fi­nan­cial ben­e­fit.

How­ever, the re­port stated the mat­ter should be sub­ject to pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion as the op­tion could cause ‘‘com­mu­nity dis­con­tent’’.

The sec­ond­choice op­tion was a ‘‘sta­tus quo’’ ap­proach which would en­able coun­cil to con­tinue to de­liver com­mu­nity hous­ing in ac­cor­dance with coun­cil strat­egy and for coun­cil to main­tain the ser­vice.

At the time, coun­cil­lors re­solved to adopt all of the pre­ferred op­tions in the Mor­ri­son Low Re­port in a staged ap­proach, in­clud­ing the de­vel­op­ment of a busi­ness case.

About three years later, the mat­ter will re­turn to South­land Dis­trict Coun­cil’s ta­ble for fur­ther con­sid­er­a­tion.

South­land Mayor Gary Tong was un­able to be reached for com­ment about the com­mu­nity hous­ing is­sue, which is due to be dis­cussed at Wed­nes­day’s coun­cil meet­ing.

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