Rhodes Abbeyfield 14-studio home opens

Charities in partnership to provide affordable accommodation for elderly.

A new 14-studio Abbeyfield house providing affordable rental accommodation for older people was formally opened in Christchurch at the weekend.

The Rhodes Abbeyfield house in Wigram was developed in partnership by Abbeyfield New Zealand and Christchurch’s Rhodes Memorial Convalescent Home Incorporated (Rhodes Trust).

It offers a unique shared housing option, which is often described as ``flatting for older people’’. Residents have their own studio unit and share meals together prepared by a housekeeper. They pay an affordable rent and there are no capital entry requirements.

The Rhodes Abbeyfield house is the second Abbeyfield house in Christchurch; a 12-resident house opened in Hornby in 2015. Nationally there are now 14 Abbeyfield houses, all operated by volunteer committees.

At Saturday’s opening Abbeyfield New Zealand board chairman Simon Hayes said social housing for the elderly was an ongoing and increasing need, and Abbeyfield aimed to meet that need. Abbeyfield had been lobbying the Government for several years to support its housing initiatives by providing capital funding.

‘’One of our biggest frustrations has been that funding has been intermittent. Schemes that have worked, and been seen to have worked, have not qualified for a further round of funding,’’ he said.

‘’We implore the Government not to turn away community groups that want to assist in this vital area of social housing.’’

Mr Hayes commended the Rhodes Trust for its vision in deciding to rebuild following the Christchurch earthquakes of almost a decade ago.

The trust provided accommodation for older persons in Christchurch for well over a century on Cashmere Hill, but following dislocation caused by the earthquakes it looked at other ways to progress its mission into the future.

Rhodes Trust chairperson Glenyss Whitnall said of all the options the trust explored, the Abbeyfield model of affordable supported housing for older people best matched the trust’s aims and vision. Abbeyfield provided a secure, companionable way of life which enabled seniors to continue to be independent and active, she said.

Rhodes Trust has funded and owns the Rhodes Abbeyfield house and land, leasing it to Abbeyfield Properties.

Mr Hayes said he hoped the initiative of the Rhodes Trust to partner with Abbeyfield would be an inspiration to other organisations.

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