Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Social agencies seek halt to pensioner housing sale

Hamilton's churches and social agencies are pleading with the council not to sell pensioner housing - while one religious trust is putting its hand up as a potential buyer for one of the most run-down properties.

The Crosslight Trust yesterday indicated interest in buying the Johnson St flats, which it said were "probably the most run-down" and least suitable of the properties earmarked for sale. The trust liked the location because it backed on to a vicarage and church hall.

The groups were responding to the Hamilton City Council's proposal to sell the Johnson St, River Rd and Ascot pensioner flats from July because they were "not fit for purpose".

The council has also signalled selling its remaining 21 pensioner housing blocks to compassionate buyers in the next 10 years, because that is not seen as a core council role.

Crosslight Trust trustee and West Hamilton Anglican parish vicar Michael Hewat urged the council to talk to the trust about buying the site before it was put out to the highest bidder.

Mr Hewat said the trust would continue to provide low-rental income-tested accommodation, but planned to redevelop the site in the next five to 10 years.

The city's church groups wanted to discuss with the council the best way to manage social housing.

They were prepared to pay a reasonable price for the properties if the council went against their advice and sold them, but did not want to compete with commercial developers.

Salvation Army Major Ian Hutson urged the council to continue providing pensioner housing and said demand would grow.

"It's been observed there's a large number of people in the position of negative wealth, who, in the future, will come into retirement without the ability to own a house."

- NZ Herald

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