In addition to the affordable rentals available at Selwyn Village and at our Selwyn House community living complex in Birkenhead, Selwyn’s capacity in the affordable housing sector is delivered through our joint venture with Auckland Council – Haumaru Housing – which celebrated its fourth anniversary on 1 July 2021.
A Community Housing Provider specialising in social housing for older people who are in need of a long-term, secure rental tenancy, it manages 62 villages across Auckland on behalf of the council, comprising a total of 1,446 homes, and seeks to provide a responsive, quality service and pleasant, welcoming village environments for all its tenants.
Creating positive and inclusive age-friendly communities that support older people’s resilience and connectivity and where social isolation and loneliness are eliminated is an important focus for Haumaru. To help strengthen tenants’ feelings of belonging, sense of community and opportunity for social connection, it funds a busy schedule of weekly outings and day-trips (which are facilitated under contract by the Foundation’s Health and Wellbeing team in the Selwyn community minivans). It also finances tenants’ attendance at Selwyn’s specialist Strength & Wellness studios, as part of its ongoing programme to support tenant wellbeing.
Providing comfortable, well-appointed meeting spaces for social activities and events is also a priority, and Haumaru has been continuing to renovate the various community houses within the villages that are available for tenants’ general use. In the past year – and despite the COVID disruption – it has held a number of re-openings following extensive interior refurbishment and redecoration of facilities. These social occasions are celebrated both with tenants and with representatives of the Local Boards and other community organisations that work on behalf of older people, and enable people to catch up with their neighbours and to make contact with other service providers amidst warm and convivial surroundings.
Highlighting older people’s housing needs and advocating for initiatives to improve seniors’ engagement in life and enjoyment of the amenities available within their neighbourhoods is also a prime objective for the Haumaru Housing team. An important aspect is developing close ties with Local Boards, with a view to unlocking additional services that will benefit Haumaru tenants and other seniors living independently in the community, and a wide range of joint projects with Local Boards is underway at any one time.
Added to this, Haumaru Chief Executive Officer Gabby Clezy was elected to the national council of Community Housing Aotearoa in the last year. This industry body supports the development of community housing by providing leadership and supporting the sector to grow, and its council governs its direction and work in this respect. Through this, Haumaru has been involved in the joint Community Housing Aotearoa / Shift Aotearoa steering group which has provided feedback to the Human Rights Commission in relation to the development of its guidelines on people’s right to a decent home.
Locally, Gabby also chairs the Auckland Community Housing Providers’ Network, which similarly advances the case for more housing for those in need. Her team is involved in the Age-Friendly Auckland Project (an initiative of Auckland Council) which aims to improve age-friendliness across the city in a wide range of service areas; this will enable Auckland to become an official ‘Age-Friendly City’ in due course and to be recognised as such by the World Health Organisation.
Such advocacy initiatives run in parallel with Haumaru’s ongoing engagement throughout the year with representatives of the country’s main political parties, which serves to raise awareness at national level of the increasing need for more affordable rental housing for older people.