Affordable housing for Wellington seniors could be under threat if local government reforms go ahead.
A Wellington city councillor has said the council might not be able to honour the positive ageing policy it adopted last month.
Social portfolio leader Stephanie Cook said the council had no idea what impact local authority changes would have on council housing.
"We just don't know what is going to happen with Wellington housing," Ms Cook said. About 270 of the 2200 council housing units are tenanted by seniors.
Public submissions on the council's positive ageing policy highlighted housing as a high priority for seniors, and concern was expressed about what might happen if councils amalgamate.
A submission from Jocelyn Frances, from the Wellington and New Zealand Councils of Social Services, pointed to each councils' different approach to housing.
She said some councils did not provide social housing, which could mean that if council amalgamation went ahead Wellington's own council housing stock could be compromised.
'If amalgamation takes place, they have to take the time to line up their values. Unless they line up, it might not work,' she said.
The Local Government Amendment Bill is intended to streamline council functions.
Ms Cook said Wellington City Council had sent a submission to central government outlining its concerns. She said the council has asked whether its provision of social housing would still be legal should local government reforms become law.
"The question is still up in the air, and we still don't know what type of activity the council will be able to engage in under the bill."
Wellington City Council has received $220 million in government funding to upgrade and earthquake strengthen housing.
As part of that contract, the council cannot sell its housing units for 30 years.
"The Government is committed to growing a third sector for [social] housing. So would it mean we would hand over our housing buildings to those companies?
"We can't just hand them over. It would have a huge impact on council assets," Ms Cook said.
There was also concern that the quality of council housing upgrades could drop and rents could be raised if the council stepped out of its housing role, said Ms Cook.
"We are already seeing a big difference in quality between government and council housing.
"The standard of government housing has not kept pace with the council."
She believed choices regarding Wellington should be left to Wellingtonians. "We need to consult with the community about what they want. We shouldn't be dictated to by central government."
- The Wellingtonian
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