INDEPENDENT NEWS

Auckland City Pensioners Can Rest Easy

Published: Fri 14 Dec 2001 03:05 PM
Residents in Auckland City pensioner housing will rest easy with the release of the review of council activities by Sir William Birch.
While Sir William is recommending that council gradually gets out of pensioner housing he specifically spells out that “current tenants should be able to remain in council pensioner housing for as long as they want”.
The Mayor John Banks has today written to all residents in council pensioner houses stating that he personally supports this position.
In his review of council activities Sir William says pensioner housing involves subsidies which should be more appropriately met by central Government, which has better access to relevant information and more powerful and effective means to redistribute income through the welfare system.
“A gradual sale of pensioner housing will generate significant savings for Auckland City through reduced operating and capital expenditure and reduction in debt servicing when the proceeds from sales are used to repay debt,” the review says.
The review estimates that over the next 10 years the council would need to spend $46 million to maintain the current 1641 units which have a current book value of $81.8 million.
In recommending that council should gradually sell pensioner houses as they are vacated, the review says this should be done without compromising the security and safety of existing tenants.
The review also recommends that council consider increasing pensioner housing rentals closer to market rates, noting that the majority of tenants will receive the accommodation supplement that will cover most of the rental increases.
“If rents were increased to $79 for bed-sits and $92 for units with bedrooms, tenants would receive the accommodation supplement. The overall impact of this change would be to increase weekly rent by about $5 to $8 for single tenants and 50 cents for couples.”
As with pensioner housing the review does not consider the ownership of residential housing to be a core activity of council, “because Auckland City has no role in the provision of income distribution through subsidised housing” and recommends that council sell the 132 residential houses it owns valued at $29.2 million.
Sir William’s recommendations will be considered by a direction setting meeting of the council’s Finance and Corporate Business committee on Wednesday 19th December, and be worked through as part of the council’s annual planning process.
ENDS

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