Pensioner housing sale still rankles
‘‘[The] council has debt, as we all know, and we just can't build any more in the near future.’’
The sale of Horowhenua District Council-owned pensioner housing is still rankling residents, who want the purchase stopped.
A council meeting on Wednesday started on a high note with a performance by the Waiopehu College barbershop quartet, but the mood soon changed as residents pushed to keep 115 pensioner housing units in the council’s possession.
The sale of the units in Shannon, Foxton and Levin, as well as 1.1 hectare of land in Waimarie Park, has been a bugbear for resident Christine Moriarty for months.
She and other public speakers have voiced their concerns about the sale at numerous council meetings.
Moriarty even started a petition against the sale and gathered more than 2000 signatures.
The council voted to receive the petition, endorsed by the Horowhenua District Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association, the Labour Party and New Zealand First at the meeting.
But bringing the issue to the forefront again did not sway the councillors, who decided in June to sell the houses to Compassion Housing.
Cr Piri-Hira Tukapua said the new owners were an offshoot of Sisters of Compassion, a Catholic organisation that founded a soup kitchen to feed homeless people in Wellington.
The organisation went above and beyond to provide good services and Compassion Housing was in a far better position to build on the land, she said.
‘‘[The] council has debt, as we all know, and we just can’t build any more in the near future.’’
Selling the housing was the best decision at the time and the residents would be better off, Tukapua said.
The average age of the housing is about 40 years and the council expects 50 to 60 per cent will need replacing in the next 20 to 25 years, at a cost of about $4.3 million.
Council spokesman Kelvin Teixiera said a $5.2m outstanding loan from Housing New Zealand to the council would be transferred to Compassion Housing.
This would reduce the council’s debt by $367,000 annually.
Moriarty was concerned the ageing population in Horowhenua would be affected.
Almost 24 per cent of people in Horowhenua are older than 65, compared with 14.3 per cent of the total New Zealand population, according to the 2013 census.
She also questioned why the houses were sold for less than they were worth.
‘‘It leaves residents thinking it’s a dodgy deal.’’
A document obtained by Stuff in July revealed the rateable value of the housing units was $9.2m. But, they were sold for $5.5m.
The document – a proposal the council calls a ‘‘community housing transfer’’ – says the council aimed to ‘‘receive a fair market value on sale’’.
The council confirmed the sale price was less than $7.19m – the property portfolio’s rateable value – but did not give a sale price.
At the council meeting, mayor Michael Feyen, who has always opposed the sale, said it was a democratic decision, but he was still against it.
The sale will be settled by September 30.
A petition against the sale of pensioner housing in Levin and Shannon won’t make any difference. Cr Piri-Hira Tukapua