Another CoL Housing Success?

Is there a reverse Midas touch effect with the Coalition government? Everything they do or attempt in the housing space seems to fail or make situations worse.

A year-and-a-half after a controversial transitional housing village opened in Opal Dr, Papamoa, some neighbours have had enough of the “social experiment”.

That’s according to Paul Dunn, who is pushing for compensation for neighbours such as his 76-year-old mum, who left her home of 13 years to escape issues with the village, Kainga Atawhai. […]

The Government opened the temporary village in December 2017 on 6500sq m of land leased from Tauranga City Council, amid protests from neighbours.

The 19 two and three bedroom houses have since accommodated 137 people in need of a place to live and attracted 11 noise complaint calls.[…]

Photo/George Novak

[Paul Dunn’s mother] and other residents reported feeling intimidated, being “eyeballed” by gang members, and hearing yelling, screaming, foul language, drunken fights and domestic violence coming from the village.

“Have you ever heard a body being thrown up against a fence?”

A car crashed through the fence of one property.

“No one would want to live next door to it. No one would want their mother living next door to it,” Dunn said.

An attempt to sell her home failed, attracting a top offer about $110,000 under the rateable value.

He and his brother pooled funds from savings and borrowing to find her another place and turn the old place into a rental.

On Tuesday Dunn joined several neighbours to air concerns about the village to Tauranga City Council in a closed-door meeting.[…]

He said residents were given “no voice” in the establishment of the village.

While they appreciated the need for social housing, the condensed nature of the village was problematic.

Dunn wanted more done to manage bad behaviour by tenants and said neighbours should be financially compensated.[…]

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development was the main funder, Housing New Zealand held the lease, the Ministry of Social Development referred clients and the Tauranga Community Housing Trust managed the village. […]

One concern was the lack of a promised 24-hour on-site custodian.

Jonathan Fraser, manager of housing support and services at the housing ministry, said the custodian role was being replaced “after feedback” with other improved support arrangements. […]

More security cameras would be installed and nighttime security patrols introduced with up to five random sweeps on weeknights and 10 on weekends.[…]

Trust acting manager John Gibson acknowledged there had been incidents in the village that had a significant impact on neighbours.

He said the trust was a responsible landlord and always tried to manage reported issues within its limitations.

The Residential Tenancies Act prohibited conditions on alcohol consumption or visitors.[…]

Western Bay of Plenty police area commander Inspector Clifford Paxton said, generally, police had not seen a disproportionate number of calls for service to the village compared with other nearby areas of Papamoa.

Current tenants of the village say there have been incidents but that some claims by watchful neighbours are exaggerated.

Those interviewed by the Bay of Plenty Times reported domestic violence, fights and visits from gang members.

One solo mum said she had lived at the village almost 18 months and could not wait to move.

She felt stressed and under constant watch from neighbours outside the village and security cameras.

“We can’t even talk out on our decking without our neighbours listening into our conversations, and if you talk too loud, some of them complain.”

Another mum in the village said some of the complaints were exaggerated.

“Just like any other neighbourhood, they have been problems between neighbours and couples fighting from time to time, but I haven’t seen anyone being threatening or intimidating,” she said.

“People need to understand this is a very stressful living situation and we are doing our best to get on with each other and our neighbours.”

When the Ministry of Social Development first announced plans for the 19-home village, it expected the average tenancy would be about 12 weeks.

According to figures provided to the Bay of Plenty Times 19 months after it opened, some tenants have lived in the village nearly the entire time.

The Government says Tauranga does not have enough social housing and is working to do more. Longer stays might be due to tenants having more complex needs or a lack of available rentals.

Bay of Plenty Times

Of the 137 residents to stay in Kainga Atawhai since it opened:

  • 45 tenants moved on to state housing or private rentals
  • 20.6 weeks: average stay of those who have left
  • 42.8 weeks: average stay of those still in the service in February (last reported month)
  • 84.3 weeks: longest stay

Golly, problems due to a lack of available rentals. What possibly could have caused landlords to sell up in droves?