Pair push for more houses for elderly

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 05:00 24/06/2014

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A city councillor who works for an elderly care corporate giant has been in private talks with outside organisations about new council housing for Invercargill.

Community services chairman Lindsay Abbott confirmed he had been in discussions with the "private sector" but would not divulge further details, citing commercial sensitivity.

The revelation came after councillor and community services deputy chairman Peter Kett called for more pensioner housing in Invercargill, with 30 people on the waiting list for council housing.

"I have been pushing it for years but no-one seems to listen to me. I would like to see a three-way partnership between the Invercargill Licensing Trust, Community Trust of Southland and Invercargill City Council," Kett said.

But it appears there is a tussle between the pair as to who has been pushing for more housing as Invercargill's population ages.

Kett said he had been campaigning for more social housing in Invercargill for years but Abbott, who works for Bupa Care Services, said he was the one pushing for more pensioner housing.

"It's not actually his [Kett's] idea. It's an idea I have been mooting for some time with council."

Abbott said he had been in talks with the private sector for almost four months about a joint venture in relation to pensioner housing.

Council chief executive Richard King said he was aware of the discussions but had not been involved in them.

The council had no plans to build any more housing itself but would look at working with third parties, King said. During the past decade, the council had applied to the Government several times for funding for more housing but had been told the money would go to Auckland, he said.

Abbott conceded there was not a "lineup of people knocking on the door", but believed demand would increase as the population aged.

Kett said with 30 people on the waiting lists for council housing, something had to be done sooner rather than later.

The council owns 215 units.

However, council corporate services manager Stephen Ridden said there was a good turnover of people on the list and the council prioritised those who were most needy.

Finance and policy chairman Neil Boniface said nothing had come before council about the issues but it had to start thinking about replacing some of its units as they aged and became harder to maintain.

"I think we have got a city responsibility to make sure there is enough quality housing for the elderly."

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- The Southland Times

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