REN­TAL SHORT­AGE: COM­MU­NITY RAL­LIES FOR GARY

Coastal News - - Front Page - By AMY DI­A­MOND and ALI­SON SMITH [email protected]

For about 20 years, Gary St Clair has called Whanga­mata¯ home.

A fa­mil­iar face to many, Gary loves Whanga­mata¯ .

He is in­volved with the Bap­tist Church and en­joys at­tend­ing the men’s groups, does his weekly pa­per round, plays bowls and en­joys go­ing to the RSA.

He has lived in Whanga­mata¯ for 20 years and at his present ad­dress for more than 15.

It suited him well, as be­ing close to the beach meant he could take his dog for walks.

How­ever he’s al­most had to re­lo­cate out­side the com­mu­nity he feels com­fort­able and safe in be­cause of a squeeze on find­ing a new place to live.

“Mov­ing is caus­ing him a lot of emo­tional anx­i­ety and up­set,” says Ngaire Leighton, his sup­port per­son from Idea Ser­vices.

Idea Ser­vices helps adults of all ages with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties live in­de­pen­dently and be a part of their lo­cal com­mu­nity.

“For a per­son in his sit­u­a­tion with his in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­ity and at his age of 56, mov­ing isn’t an easy op­tion.”

Gary does not need much — a self-con­tained kitchen and bath­room are the main pre­req­ui­sites — and he was lucky to find a small place. It will need some work, but Whanga­mata¯ lo­cals are al­ready ral­ly­ing to his aid.

Geoff March of Whanga­mata¯ Lions says a work­ing bee on Oc­to­ber 6 from 10am un­til noon will be a great chance for any­one with spare time to sup­port Gary. Geoff has been work­ing with Ngaire to get the place ship shape. From clean­ing to the skills re­quired for build­ing a porch over one end of the small deck at his new home, all are welcome.

Vonny Davis, IDEA Ser­vices GM North­ern area, says there was no com­mu­nity hous­ing in Whanga­mata¯ . The ser­vice does ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to en­sure that per­son can move to a home that works for them when they are given no­tice to va­cate.

This may in­clude find­ing short-term ac­com­mo­da­tion un­til there’s a long-term so­lu­tion.

“We make sure no one is with­out a home. The cur­rent hous­ing mar­ket in New Zealand is tough for all peo­ple search­ing for ren­tal prop­er­ties. We work closely along­side the peo­ple we sup­port and their fam­i­lies to en­sure suit­able liv­ing ar­range­ments are found.”

Across the hill in Thames, the Sup­ported Lifestyle Hau­raki Trust has 32 homes in his­toric Gra­ham­stown, which have created a “com­mu­nity within a com­mu­nity” for peo­ple with spe­cial needs.

The lo­ca­tion and com­mu­nity in­te­gra­tion pro­vide a feel­ing of pride and ac­cep­tance and a sense of con­tribut­ing and be­long­ing, ac­cord­ing to the Trust, es­tab­lished by Mur­ray Lynds and Peter Ruther­ford in 1994.

Gen­eral man­ager Phil Wight­man says or­gan­i­sa­tions around New Zealand were strug­gling with the same pres­sures for find­ing af­ford­able ren­tal prop­er­ties for vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple.

“There are a lot of peo­ple want­ing to come into our ser­vice. There’s ob­vi­ously a mas­sive short­age of rentals and we don’t have the so­lu­tion.”

He be­lieves the cost of liv­ing in Auck­land has driven many el­derly peo­ple south and put pres­sure on the ren­tal mar­ket.

“Peo­ple are be­ing driven out of Auck­land and com­ing down and buy­ing up houses in Coro­man­del-thames. There’d be a lot of peo­ple in the same sit­u­a­tion [as Gary] if it’s about find­ing a ren­tal.”

He also agrees a crit­i­cal short­age of ren­tal ac­com­mo­da­tion in Whanga­mata¯ and else­where on the Coro­man­del is af­fect­ing peo­ple, not only those with spe­cial needs.

Ray White Whanga­mata¯ Prop­erty Man­ager Chris­tine Fletcher says she does not have a sin­gle ren­tal prop­erty on her books and “a whole folder full” of peo­ple look­ing.

“It’s pretty tough. I don’t have any­thing avail­able that I can rent to any­one.” She says po­ten­tial ten­ants range from sin­gles look­ing for one bed­room through to fam­i­lies.

There are 39 ren­tal prop­er­ties listed on the Ray White Whanga­mata¯ site but they were all hol­i­day home rentals at around $1000-plus per week.

Mean­while the Gov­ern­ment is seek­ing in­put from land­lords, ten­ants and oth­ers, on pro­posed changes to the Res­i­den­tial Ten­an­cies Act aimed at giv­ing more se­cu­rity to ten­ants.

Among the changes con­sid­ered is an end to ‘no cause’ ter­mi­na­tions and in­creas­ing the amount of no­tice that land­lords would have to give to ter­mi­nate a ten­ancy from 42 days to 90 days. Land­lords would only get 21 days’ no­tice. It is ex­pected that any changes will come into force in 2020.

“It is al­ready an of­fence to dis­crim­i­nate against any per­son on the ba­sis of dis­abil­ity,” says Claire Lead­bet­ter, MBIE Man­ager for Ten­ancy and Ren­tal Hous­ing Qual­ity. “The re­form pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple to have their say about how this is work­ing. Sub­mis­sions are open un­til 5pm, Sun­day 21 Oc­to­ber.”

■ Want to help Gary? Con­tact Geoff on 021 0257220 for the work­ing bee.

PHOTO / AMY DI­A­MOND

Gary St Clair has lived in Whanga­mata¯ for 20 years and is hop­ing to find ac­com­mo­da­tion so he does not have to re­lo­cate.

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