Nelson has been the third least affordable region of New Zealand throughout this century. Nelson Tasman Housing Trust (NTHT/The Trust) is a registered charity and a registered Community Housing Provider. The Trust have been an active member of Community Housing Aotearoa’s national council for ten years, it is governed by seven trustees from the business and community sectors and employs three part time staff.
The Trust has grown relatively rapidly and in many ways its most valuable role has been to act as a catalyst, to bring partners together to provide local housing solutions. They work closely with the Social Housing Unit – Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), Housing NZ Corporation (HNZC), the local councils, the District Health Board, emergency housing agencies and key funders such as the Canterbury Community Trust (TCCT). In 2010 it received the TrustPower Nelson Community Award and its first scheme won the Community Development Award of the Registered Master Builders House of the Year competition in 2007.
NTHT has developed a range of activities:
- building affordable rental houses;
- providing emergency accommodation; and
- improving energy efficiency in the homes
Top: NTHT’s nine dwelling development in Brook Street Nelson incorporating passive solar design.
Bottom: This standalone dwelling at NTHT’s Brook Street site includes solar hot water and incorporates best-practice accessibility features.
The Trust currently owns 35 houses with four in the development pipeline. The houses are all built to a high specification with high levels of energy efficiency and most are built to universal design standards. They use a Design & Build model, using either local companies or volume builders.
Houses are let at an ‘affordable’ rent of between 70% and 80% of market rents to local people on low to moderate incomes. The Trust also contracts with MSD to provide homes for people in receipt of Income Related Rent Subsidy. Because of the housing schemes’ relative high densities, care is also taken to achieve a community balance. Turnover of tenancies is low and this stability is a feature that is most valued by tenants, the community and the Trust. Unlike the private sector, NTHT offers its tenants security of tenure.
The Trust is considering diversifying into low-cost, shared-ownership housing on future large schemes to encourage a balanced community mix.
Early schemes were funded by Housing Innovation Fund (HIF) loans and TCCT grants. A TCCT low-interest loan, a contribution of land and development contribution waivers from Nelson City Council (NCC) and a $1.3m HIF loan covered half the costs of their third scheme, with a mortgage making up the balance. Recent schemes have been funded by Social Housing Fund grants, NCC development contribution waivers and bank loans.
NTHT co-ordinates an emergency housing response and also operates a Bond Bank.
The Trust brought together 11 local agencies under a Memorandum of Understanding to streamline and coordinate emergency housing provision comprising of two cabins, offering up to two weeks emergency accommodation to families. The Trust also brought together the local House Builders Federation and local colleges to build the cabins.
The Bond Bank provides interest free loans to help families to pay the bond for private lettings. Up to $750 loans are offered which are then paid off according to the tenants’ circumstances.
NTHT operates two cabins for emergency housing at Tahunanui Holiday Park.
The Trust ran a 500 homes retrofit programme in partnership with the local DHB, Work and Income NZ and Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), targeting people on low income and with health issues. They are currently partnering with TCCT, the DHB, Nelson City Council and EECA to retrofit 100+ homes a year for low income families with high health needs. The scheme has attracted the financial support of several private landlords.
The Trust plans to grow its portfolio of affordable rental stock and also diversify into affordable home-ownership where this can complement community balance and make schemes more viable. They plan to grow their presence in other regions by working in partnership with local groups and Iwi in the Top of the South. Trust Director Keith Preston says their plans would be helped by a stable, long-term policy and funding environment so they can achieve best value and satisfy the expectations of their partners and communities.