Queenstown couple get first house

GRANT BRYANT IN QUEENSTOWN
Last updated 14:55 24/04/2013
Southland Times photo
GRANT BRYANT/Fairfax NZ

Queenstown couple Shane Trembath and Sophie Coakley with Max, 1, have been assisted by the Queenstown Housing Trust to get into their first home.

Southland Times photo
GRANT BRYANT/Fairfax NZ
Queenstown couple Shane Trembath and Sophie Coakley with Max, 1, have been assisted by the Queenstown Housing Trust to get into their first home.

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While other young families leave Queenstown because they can't get a foot on the property ladder, one young couple say the only reason they were able to stay was because of the Queenstown Housing Trust.

Shane Trembath and Sophie Coakley were self-described "reluctant renters" with no way of buying their first home and a baby on the way, when buying their first home was made possible by the Queenstown Housing Trust.

A year later they are the loving parents of Max and first-time homeowners, but say they could have left the town that they love because of high house prices.

"We probably would've been forced to move on because it would've taken us years to save for a deposit," Mr Trembath said.

"Even though we love Queenstown and it's probably one of the best places to raise a child, the housing situation would've meant moving was the best option for us."

Many young families are in the same situation. With no family ties or support in Queenstown it would have been easier to move to be closer to Mr Trembath's North Island family and more affordable

housing, and moving to England to be with Ms Coakley's family was probably not an option.

Stephen Brent, trustee and spokesman for the Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust, said an independent report by the trust last year found that 86 per cent of respondents said expensive housing meant they would move elsewhere.

"High housing costs pose an economic and social challenge for Queenstown. Housing is the single largest cost for our struggling young households."

Mr Trembath agreed.

"Even houses at Lake Hayes (Estate) are starting at $430,000, which was out of our price range, and renting is a big problem in Queenstown - we couldn't imagine being in that position now."

Sky-high rents, on par with Auckland, rental properties frequently going on the market and forcing tenants out, a general lack of quality rental homes and stiff competition from transient travellers and seasonal workers were all factors contributing to Queenstown's dire rental situation, he said.

"The whole housing situation is a huge issue for Queenstown. We know lots of people in the same situation as we were in, and lots of them are thinking about leaving. If the Housing Trust wasn't here, there's no way we would be, and that's a really bad situation for an otherwise awesome town to be in." The couple both agreed that the Queenstown Lakes District Council, which is considering ceding a $2.6 million land block at the Arrowtown Camping Ground to the Housing Trust, should do so.

If the council supports the trust's proposal, the trust will redevelop the land with 10 dwellings, of which eight will be rented to families saving for houses, and two will be reserved for senior citizens.

"Young families need all the help they can get, otherwise there will be just be more and more people moving on," Mr Trembath said.

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- The Mirror

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