As demand for rental properties in our region soars, our community’s most vulnerable are getting left behind.
Low-income earners, older people, and those living with a disability or mental illness are struggling to find suitable housing, whether due to sheer unaffordability or lack of accessible properties available.
Local charity Tauranga Community Housing Trust (TCHT) is working to change that by improving access to quality, sustainable housing.
As a registered community housing provider, TCHT can access government rent subsidies that mean eligible tenants pay a reduced rent of 25% of their income. TCHT builds, owns, leases, and manages properties for this use, and their team of tenancy managers support clients to sustain their tenancies.
TCHT has 12 new one-bedroom homes in Gate Pa due for completion at the end of May 2021, thanks to a generous $500,000 grant from TECT. The balance of the project is being funded with favourable loan arrangements with BayTrust.
All the units on Tuka Grove are designed to be accessible to Lifemark 4 standard – well designed for ageing in place. They include individual gardens, disability car parks, accessible pathways, and landscaping.
TCHT General Manager Jacqui Ferrel says the new homes will provide many positive benefits.
“We are creating a safe, warm and affordable place for people who are experiencing housing hardship, often homelessness. These types of tenants often cannot afford suitable housing – let alone housing that is specifically designed for their disability or chronic health condition.
“The subsidised rent also makes the housing affordable for the tenant and means that they can spend their money on other necessities for quality of life. We also know that living in warm, dry homes improves their health outcomes as well,” says Jacqui.
Jacqui says they take a people-focused approach to their work.
“We actively get to know our tenants over time as our involvement is as much about the people as the properties. We carry out inspections on a three-monthly basis and are available when tenants require some assistance.
“Our focus is on enabling sustainable tenancies. People experience all sort of challenges, and our approach is to try to prevent these events resulting in homelessness.
”Managing a tenancy can be challenging when you’re not well or when you lose employment or suffer trauma. We support our tenants and connect them to support agencies rather than take a strict property management approach to their tenancy.”
Tauranga has a severe shortage of small dwellings that are suitable for TCHT’s clients and the situation is predicted to significantly worsen.
Migration and population growth in Tauranga coupled with the existing and growing older population of retirees add to the pressures on suitable small dwelling availability.
While these new houses will only make a small dent in the waiting list for housing, the twelve tenants moving in are very happy to have new homes that will be affordable, warm, safe and healthy for many years to come.
“Most of the prospective tenants have visited the site on several occasions and are very excited about moving in. Many are also quite emotional about the long-term housing security these properties will offer them. They like the development layout, which will give them a mix of privacy, safety, and also being part of a supportive community,” says Jacqui.
“We are so grateful for TECT’s funding in helping us make this possible. The purchase of Tuka Grove will be funded using equity from our existing housing and loans from our lending partners, and the TECT grant reduces the amount of debt we need to have. This will enable us to progress further housing builds and continue to address the housing shortage in this region.”
As well as providing community housing and developing further housing solutions, TCHT is a transitional housing provider offering short term accommodation with wraparound support for people and whanau in urgent need of housing.
A new initiative called Good Returns has also been developed by the trust, connecting homeowners of properties in Tauranga with those who typically get overlooked as tenants; people with no home, often living in unsafe or unhealthy conditions.
Since the inception of the Good Returns initiative, TCHT has secured 11 new properties for community and transitional housing use, providing suitable housing for 65 people. The charity continues to promote and seek out more private rentals for families in housing hardship.
To learn more about Good Returns, visit https://www.goodreturns.org.nz/.
To learn more about Tauranga Community Housing Trust, visit https://tcht.org.nz/.