A small village of temporary container homes for the homeless is being proposed for Te Puke with the aim of helping 24 families a year.

The plan, driven by EmpowermentNZ, is for seven small houses, with families in six and the seventh for a manager.

EmpowermentNZ runs a range of social services in Te Puke and its trustees presented the village plans at a Western Bay of Plenty District Council meeting last week as a way to address Te Puke's homelessness issues.

Read more: Tauranga houses remain beyond the reach of many young people

Advertisement

"We see it daily because people are coming in here desperately in need of accommodation," trustee Judy Abrahams said.

She said people were living in their cars or in the holiday park; others were in sheds or in the bush and several families are sharing a house.

"It is constantly put in front of us.''

Mrs Abrahams said the village's residents would be people whose situation was substandard and who had the desire to upskill themselves, set realistic goals and had a good chance of reaching those goals.

They would also need to stay drug- and alcohol-free and to help in the grounds and vegetable garden.

The village would provide a temporary home and residents would take skills learned there out into the community.

The trust would work with the Ministry of Social Development [MSD] to ensure those leaving the village had a home to go to and would also work with former tenants after they had left.

Fellow trustee Clyde Langford said research suggested dwellings built from shipping containers would be the best option.

"They are simple structures, strong, low-maintenance, cheap to transport and robust."

He said they could be relocated relatively quickly and he hoped the council could adapt its rules to facilitate the establishment of the village with minimal cost and delay.

The trust said there were three possible sites for the village - council-owned land behind the Memorial Hall, property in Lenihan Dr, or the [Te Puke] Holiday Park.

It had been in contact with the council about finding a suitable site, and about services and layout.

A council spokesman said it received the presentation from EmpowermentNZ, but had not made any decisions to fund or provide land for the project.

"Any solution needs to involve MSD as they are the key providers of emergency and transitional housing."

The spokesman said the council was concerned about housing issues in Te Puke, including homelessness, overcrowding, and the poor quality of the housing stock.

It had been working with other agencies since 2014 to improve housing conditions in Maketu and the surrounds through the "A Healthy Whare" project.

The council had also been a part of a multi-agency steering group over the past nine months developing actions to address homelessness.

"The extent of the problem in Te Puke is difficult to define as no one agency holds the data."

As of yesterday, there were just six empty homes at the site of the 19-unit pop-up emergency housing village in Papamoa. Photo/John Borren
As of yesterday, there were just six empty homes at the site of the 19-unit pop-up emergency housing village in Papamoa. Photo/John Borren

The development of a pop-up emergency housing village in Papamoa appears to be running behind schedule.

In June the Bay of Plenty Times revealed that a 6500sq m vacant site at Papamoa's Opal Dr had been earmarked for a new 19-unit housing development, with the pre-assembled houses to start being shifted on to the site in late August.

Yesterday there were just six empty homes on the site, with three further houses expected to be delivered this week.

Associate Minister of Social Housing Alfred Ngaro, who unveiled the project at the end of June, yesterday said he was satisfied with the progress at Opal Dr.

"We had anticipated that we'd have the first properties on site in August but a couple of minor hiccups from things like wet weather meant that wasn't possible.

"The team have been working really hard since then and I'm really pleased that the ministry is on track to have families moving in by Christmas as we had originally hoped."

Scott Gallacher, the Ministry of Social Development's deputy chief executive of housing, said timing on the project was progressing well.

"We are really pleased to say work has begun on preparing a site for 19 much-needed new homes at 45 Opal Drive, Papamoa."

The homes are intended to be a stepping-stone for families who need a place to stay while they search for a more permanent place to live.

They are being built off-site and then delivered and tenanted in two phases.

"We said the first homes will be coming to the site in late August and they were delivered just a few weeks later, in early October," Mr Gallacher said.

Residents were being kept updated on progress.

"We expect to have the first nine homes to be ready for families to move in before Christmas."

Five of those would be two-bedroom houses and four would be three-bedroom.

The remaining 10 homes would be delivered over the next three weeks.

"And we expect phase two will be ready for residents in January 2018," Mr Gallacher said.

Tauranga Community Housing Trust will manage the properties, look after the tenancies, and provide social support services to the people living there.

It will begin working with the ministry to select families in November.

- Scott Yeoman