Housing trust given $1m boost

The Nelson Tasman Housing Trust has been granted $1 million out of the Government's $37 million Social Housing Fund for a new affordable housing development in the Victory area.

The $2.4 million project off St Vincent St would involve the construction of eight three-bedroom and modern energy-efficient units, Nelson MP Nick Smith said yesterday.

The housing trust announced last December it hoped to develop eight affordable rental homes in the Victory area, but tougher competition for shrinking government funds would make it an uphill battle.

The trust is a community-based charity, which builds houses using a mixture of grants and loan finance then rents them at a discounted rate to people struggling to get a secure footing in the housing market.

Trustee Kindra Douglas said yesterday they were "delighted" to get a portion of the Social Housing Fund for the project. The $1m would be a sizeable contribution towards the development.

Ms Douglas said the trust was working with Jennian Homes as the developer, in the same way it had with an earlier housing development project in the region.

The housing trust owns 15 houses: nine in the Bramley Estates subdivision in Richmond (Canterbury Court); four in Kawai St, Nelson; and two pre-existing homes it bought in Salisbury Rd, Richmond, and Murphy St, Nelson.

It has another nine under way on the Nelson City Council-owned OK Corral land in the Brook.

Ms Douglas said the newest development would take their housing stock to 32, which meant it would have doubled in a year.

Demand for affordable homes continued to climb, with low turnover and increased economic pressures.

Dr Smith said the $1m grant recognised the problems of housing affordability that were particularly acute in the Victory area.

The eight new units, each with the capacity to house families with up to four children would be "affordable, good-quality homes", with solar water heating, heat pumps, energy-efficient lighting and would be fully insulated to keep energy costs down. They would also be wheelchair accessible with appropriate design of bathroom facilities for people with disabilities.

"The benefit from this initiative is that eight more Nelson families from low socio-economic backgrounds will have a warm, safe and affordable home which will give them the stability to get ahead.

"Securing this $1 million grant for Nelson in such difficult economic times shows the Government, while being prudent and careful with public money, is prepared to invest in innovative projects that will help families at risk," Dr Smith said.