17 Sep 2014

NP pensioner flats' future in balance

8:39 am on 17 September 2014

The fate of some of New Plymouth's most vulnerable residents is hanging in the balance as the city considers the future of its 145 pensioner units.

New Plymouth is considering the future of its 145 pensioner units which are worth about $12m but lose the council more than $90,000 a year.

New Plymouth is considering the future of its 145 pensioner units which are worth about $12m but lose the council more than $90,000 a year. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

The flats - in New Plymouth, Waitara and Inglewood - are valued at almost $12 million but cost the council more than $90,000 a year to run because their rents are subsidised.

Options for their future include retaining them, selling them on the open market, selling them to a social housing provider or transferring them to a third party trust or manager.

The New Plymouth District Council has been investigating the future of the units for about 16 months, as part of its drive to control rates, .

Richard Flyger, a resident at Clifton Court in Waitara, is fed up with the uncertainty he and his neighbours are facing.

Mr Flyger said the stress of having to worry about where he is going to live was something he thought he had put behind him.

"I mean when I came here four-and-a-half years ago I thought 'that's it, I'm set until I die. They're going to cart me out of here in a box'.

"Now you just don't know what's going to happen. We haven't got a clue," the 71-year-old said.

Richard Flyger.

Richard Flyger. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd said the council was taking stock of its housing for the elderly and the last thing it wanted do was put people out on the street.

He said it was about how the old housing stock was managed as its ongoing upkeep and maintenance was an additional cost to ratepayers.

Mr Judd said the council was looking at how it could be managed more effectively.

He was confident the residents had been treated fairly but he said he felt for them nevertheless.

New Plymouth Positive Ageing Trust chairman Jeff Blyde said rather than offloading its housing stock for the elderly, the council should actually be looking to increase the number of units with the increase in the number of older people.

Mr Blyde's preference is for the status quo but said transferring the flats to a trust could be an option if the right organisation could be found.

Gladys Hopkinson has lived at the New Plymouth's Nevada Drive flats for almost 20 years.

The 77-year-old said she was in no mood for change because it was nice and quiet, and was her home.

Submissions on the future of the units closes today, and a final decision on their fate is expected later this year.

Gladys Hopkinson.

Gladys Hopkinson. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

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