Housing stocks, grants scheme face reviews

ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 13:43 05/03/2014

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Social housing and community funding will come under close scrutiny after Hamilton City leaders voted for a review into the community grants scheme and ownership of pensioner homes.

Council met to discuss recommendations in the 2014/2015 Draft Annual Plan and discussion arose about its role in providing social services.

Councillors passed a recommendation to look into the "ownership and delivery" of council-owned pensioner flats and the "efficiency and cost effectiveness" of funding community organisations as part of the Long Term Plan.

A fund of $1.4 million was set aside for community and arts sector organisations in the Draft Annual Plan but councillor Andrew King questioned why council even provided the service.

Margaret Forsyth supported his call and Garry Mallett who was the chairman of WEL Energy Trust for six years said some went for the "easy money".

"We weaken our city and we weaken our community."

Cr Philip Yeung said ratepayer funds were needed to pick up central government slack. "If council stop doing this, I believe all of the programmes funders will pull out," he said. "Council funding is important to the survival of community funding."

Cr Martin Gallagher was a "strong supporter" of the community grants scheme. He suggested funding from other organisations could become difficult to secure if council pulled out.

Community funding was 1 per cent of the total budget in the annual plan. He said the debate was a philosophical one split down the "democratic divide".

He also believed Hamilton should maintain its stock of pensioner homes but agreed the review should be done.

Council will send a discussion document to social housing providers and invite them to chambers on March 27 for talks. Mayor Julie Hardaker said it was "important to talk to sector groups" about the future of social housing in the city.

elton.smallman@waikatotimes.co.nz

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- Waikato

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