Housing for the Elderly
Friday, April 8, 2011 at 10:58AM
Bill Barclay

One has to ask - 'is this the responsibility of local government'?

Clearly, Cr. Hoadley believes this to be the case (see p. 19 in today's HH), and she is not alone - it is every new councillors dream be be able to provide the necessities of life to the elderly. And incidentally, to remind them regularly of your extreme concern for their welfare - after all, they are a large block of voters in this town.  

Thames provides 42 houses for the elderly through the Pensioner Housing Trust that is a legacy from the old Thames Borough Council. The Council originally made the investment in these houses, then found the burden of management and upkeep too great, and established the Trust that under the tireless oversight of Denis Rogers has to this day managed the units in an exemplary manner. The same can be said for the Whitianga Community Trust under the guidance of Toby Morcom. 

Both benefited greatly from generous Housing NZ funding arrangements that were available at the time. Similar arrangements may still be available, but to my knowledge, under Treasury encouragement, every effort is being directed towards shifting financial responsibility from Central Government to local authorities in this and in and every other possible area.

The net result is that Cr. Hoadley, and her colleagues are either facing futility in attempting to activate similar funding arrangements, or else they are suggesting that TCDC take responsibility for establishing more pensioner housing under its own auspices.

That means one thing and one thing only - the financial burden for such a program will fall on every Thames ratepayer - there is no way that other wards will accept any responsibility for increasing Thames's pensioner housing stock. It is all very well for Cr. Hoadley to talk about about giving this "serious priority", and to encourage Age Concern to set up shop in Thames - just how does she think that will improve the state of affairs?

As for her her claim that "the Council should act now to take advantage of the current market", and that "prices will never be this low again", one has to ask just what inside knowledge she has of the market that enables her to make predictions more appropriate to those of a desparate real estate agent?

It is disturbing to think that this new Councillor from outside the district may be about to mount a campaign through the Community Board to expand our stock of pensioner housing through the use of funding that can only be provided by already stretched rate-payers. Talk of private/public partnerships is just that - talk.

It is inappropriate for Cr. Hoadley to be raising the hopes of those awaiting housing in this manner. Responsibility for this activity lies with Central Government, full-stop, and councillors should confine themselves to ensuring that our representatives take that aboard. 

A Positive Aging Strategy is one thing - raising false hope is another.  It is indeed fortunate that as Cr. Hoadley indicates, "there is no funding in the annual plan for this year or next", so we, and she are on safe ground, for the moment.




Article originally appeared on BillBarcBlog (http://billbarclay.co.nz/).
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