Investment of Elder Housing Sale Proceeds – Transcript 14 August 2023
Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. I’m representing Grey Power Tauranga & WBOP. Grey Power is an advocacy organisation promoting the welfare and well-being of all those citizens in the 50+ age group. My role on the local committee is to advocate for safe and affordable housing for our older residents.
Through my volunteer work with Grey Power and my day-job in Seniors Real Estate I have been regularly approached by distressed superannuitants trying to find affordable rental accommodation.
In Tauranga, which is one of the three most expensive cities in New Zealand for rental accommodation, it is near impossible to find somewhere to live on New Zealand superannuation – if you still want to eat.
I wanted to help the people that approached me. I learnt about the accommodation supplement, only to find that it wasn’t available until an applicant’s savings had dwindled. I looked for affordable seniors housing rental options only to find that with the exception of a few community organisations there was almost nothing available. I found getting into Kainga Ora housing (where much of Tauranga’s Elder housing now resides) required an applicant to get onto the MSD wait list which can be a year long.
Even when a suitable public sector rental was found, some landlords were wary of older tenants and their ability to look after the property. I spoke with an 80-year-old lady that had been turned down five times. One 80+ year-old gentleman ended up looking in the “flatmates wanted” advertisements.
I’m here today because I struggled to find satisfactory solutions for the older people that I was trying to help. Superannuation is not providing for many of Tauranga’s vulnerable older people. The lack of options, the lack of security, the stress that potential homelessness causes at an older age is deeply concerning.
A large senior’s population combined with expensive rents makes Tauranga vulnerable to a looming crisis that will be caused by an increasing number of renters, an ageing population and a lack of age-appropriate housing.
Although Tauranga City Council has now removed itself from active involvement in elder housing there is still the opportunity to take steps to prevent distress in our vulnerable older community.
There are several small villages that are flourishing for their elderly residents. These villages have age-appropriate housing, managers that mow the lawns and wash the houses and provide assistance where needed. They often have a clubhouse where residents can get together.
In other parts of the community there are community housing organisations working in successful partnership with developers. The developers provide the infrastructure and the community organisations guarantee tenants, rent payments and care of the properties.
Our request to council is to not let the elder housing funds go into a general accommodation pool. It is important for Tauranga renters that the elder housing funds are ring-fenced for elder housing.
There is an opportunity for Tauranga City Council to create a better future for our elderly renters with a guiding strategy to increase elder housing by encouraging collaboration between community housing organisations and private businesses.
Please don’t let Tauranga rely on central government when our local requirements are unique to our city. Please return the elder housing funds to our senior population – which ultimately is all of us.
Grey Power Tauranga & WBOP committee
027 242 7646