Scott Gallacher, Deputy Chief Executive, Housing, Ministry of Social Development says the work is steadily coming along.
“We have contacted local residents to keep them updated of progress.
“The homes, intended to be a stepping-stone for families who need a place to stay while they search for a more permanent place to live, are being built off-site and are being delivered and tenanted in two phases.
“We expect to have the first nine homes, including five two-bedroom and four three-bedroom homes, to be ready for families to move in before Christmas.”
Six homes are currently on site, with three more being delivered this week, says Scott.
“The remaining 10 homes will be delivered over the next three weeks and we expect phase two will be ready for residents in January 2018.
“Local experienced community housing provider Tauranga Community Housing Trust will manage the properties, look after the tenancies, and provide social support services to the people living there.
“Tauranga Community Housing Trust will begin working with the Ministry of Social Development to select families in November.”
Papamoa councillor Steve Morris says is looking forward to see families off the street.
“I’m really proud to be part of a community that’s looking after our most vulnerable.
“It would be absolutely fantastic if Housing New Zealand were able to get families in there by Christmas,” says Steve.
“I can immediately think of a couple of families who are local, and I’m thinking it would be fantastic to have them in warm dry healthy accommodation instead of in cars.”
He says while there were some initial concerns from neighbouring properties, the development is currently being supported by a majority of the community.
“We’re a strong community and after discussions together it seems the consensus it is not acceptable to have mums and children sleeping in cars.
“That is not the city we want, and if we allow that sort of thing to continue the social issues down the track in around 20 years are enormous.
“Neighbours always have different views, because they are the ones who are impacted financially.
“Overall these homes look quite attractive and Housing New Zealand have tried to accommodate neighbours’ concerns as much as possible.
“I think because there has been some changes to the project such as having security on site 24 hours a day, we’ve been given the assurance about some of the initial concerns.”
“There were also recently some issues highlighted by nearby residents regarding putting buildings on site and builders working during the night and disturbing residents.
“I understand that’s now been rectified, they are putting the buildings on site during the night and leaving them for siting the next day.
“Housing New Zealand are right on top of that and they are sensitive to those issues from community members and they’ve jumped right on that.
“At the end of the day these people need to be in homes and it is in nobody’s interest to have them sleeping on the streets because that’s just wrong.”
More information about Opal Drive and social housing initiatives in general can be found here: www.socialhousing.govt.nz