Editorial: A little humanity on street required

By Dylan Thorne


There's an old saying "you can't choose your neighbours" but try telling that to the group of Hairini residents who are up in arms over a proposal to build a Habitat for Humanity home on their street.

Last week we reported on the concerns raised by Awaiti Place residents about the charity's plan to build an affordable home on a vacant lot in their street.

They argue such a home will have an impact on privacy, will remove a convenient place for the local children to play and cause property values in the street to drop.

Habitat for Humanity is a charitable organisation that helps struggling families get their first home.

The residents have petitioned the Tauranga City Council, asking it not to sell the property, which the council was planning to do because the land is surplus to its requirements.

Earlier this year, councillors declined a proposal from the residents that the lot be turned into a neighbourhood reserve.

A couple, who live next to the site, said the green space offered by the empty lot was one of the main attractions.

Surely they would have known there was a chance that land use would change at some point.

Sections in residential areas don't stay empty forever.

Another neighbour had heard horror stories about other Habitat for Humanity homes and was concerned a family with financial difficulties might be placed nearby.

Having cashflow problems does not make you a bad neighbour.

Given the screening process used by Habitat for Humanity to find eligible families, it's unlikely they will end up with neighbours from hell.

This process, hopefully, will ensure just the opposite.

According to the Habitat for Humanity website the organisation has a screening process for candidates which includes in-house interviews with families, reference and credit checks.

Families must demonstrate that there are no other possible ways of achieving home ownership though conventional commercial financing methods; that they have the ability to to repay a Habitat loan which requires the family has a stable income, sufficient to cover the regular repayments and other expenses that come with home ownership.

They must also contribute 500 hours of volunteer labour ("sweat equity") towards the building of their home.

I can understand residents are concerned about their property values and they are entitled to protest over the plan, but their resistance comes across as snobbishness and "nimbyism".

- Bay of Plenty Times

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