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25 Aug 2016

Selwyn's community housing partnership with Auckland Council gets the go-ahead

Auckland Council’s portfolio of homes for older Aucklanders has received a major boost with today’s approval to redevelop the villages and partner with The Selwyn Foundation.

Many of the 1452* rental units across 63 villages are rundown and poorly located for amenities such as public transport. The city’s urban development agency Panuku Development Auckland will ensure the new homes address the needs of older people both in location and quality. 

The council’s Governing Body today approved the over arching plan for the project and the business model for the partnership, giving Panuku the mandate to action the development and proceed with the partnership.

Deputy mayor Penny Hulse says this initiative is all about improving both the quality of housing for our older people and the associated services we provide. “Many of the homes don’t meet the needs of our older people. It can be something as simple as that the hallways aren’t wide enough for zimmer frames, or that the villages are located blocks away from a bus stop.”
   
Hulse also stressed the council’s promise not to reduce the current number of homes. “We are absolutely committed to maintaining the existing number of rental units with the potential to develop more over time. Our focus is on providing certainty for older Aucklanders.”
   
In December 2015 following a contestable process, council approved The Selwyn Foundation as the preferred partner to deliver services to older people in Auckland. Panuku and council began working with Selwyn to establish a joint venture company as the business model for the partnership.
   
Hulse says, establishing a partnership with The Selwyn Foundation will provide access to Selwyn’s expertise, give certainty to tenants and enable access to external funding. “We are committed to providing safe and affordable housing for older Aucklanders, which can be accessed by those who are eligible. Working with a community housing partner and enabling further housing to be developed will allow us to do this.”
   
The Selwyn Foundation is a New Zealand charitable trust with a long history of providing quality retirement accommodation and care around the country. The Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer Garry Smith says: “The approval of the partnership arrangement with Selwyn represents a major opportunity for the council’s existing and prospective tenants, in terms of safeguarding their future living environments and providing the assurance of a quality service backed up by the principles and values of a charitable trust, whose 60-plus year mission has been the wellbeing of older people."
It unlocks greater potential for The Selwyn Foundation to help and support a much larger proportion of our older population. Through this new joint venture company, we aim to provide outstanding housing for older Aucklanders – to create safe, age-friendly neighbourhoods, where houses are homes, streets are communities and tenants are well served and content where they live and with the services they receive.  
 
“This new partnership is as much about securing the futures of older people and enhancing their wellbeing, as it is about housing. It goes to the heart of the Foundation’s charitable purpose – improving the lives of the more vulnerable, aged members of our society. We are extremely excited by the opportunity and look forward to working with the council to transition operations over the coming months, and then commencing services early next year.”   
   
Panuku Strategy and Engagement Director David Rankin says the redevelopment of the villages has an added spin-off for Aucklanders looking to buy their own home.
   
“We will not only ensure the new homes are fit-for-purpose for our older people but the redevelopment will also enable approximately double the total number of houses on the sites." 
   
“The other houses will be developed by community housing providers and the private sector, and will include a mix of affordable and market-priced homes – all adding to Auckland’s housing supply.” Rankin says Panuku will make better use of some sites, while others that are not fit-for-purpose will be sold to free up funds for reinvestment in the redevelopment of the villages. 
 
A tenants’ reference group and a mana whenua advisory group have been set up to ensure the views of those living in the homes, including the needs of Maori, are incorporated in the development plans. 
   
The joint venture company is expected to be established by March 2017, with the operations of the villages transitioning to the new partnership over the next six months.
   
*The total of 1452 includes 1412 existing units and 40 that are committed to being built in Wilsher Village in Henderson. Most units are in the south (686), followed by the north (458) and the west (308). Devonport-Takapuna has the largest concentration with 274 units. 
 
The partnership arrangement for the Housing for Older People portfolio was part of a statutory consultation process for the amendment of council’s 2015-2025 long term plan. Following the consultation process in June, council’s Governing Body approved the amendment last month.