Crown agency Housing NZ looks likely to waive its requirement for the purchaser of Horowhenua District Council's pensioner housing units to be a registered community housing provider.

HDC has a $5.2 million HNZ suspensory loan on the 115 units. An HNZ spokesperson earlier this month said it was a condition of sale that the loan be transferred to the purchaser and that the purchaser be a registered community housing provider.

But HNZ's position seems to have changed following HDC's announcement last week it was selling the units to Compassion Horowhenua, a new entity that is not a registered community housing provider.

Compassion Horowhenua is to have an equal shareholding between property developers Willis Bond and Co and the religious, social services organisation Sisters of Compassion.
Gerard McGreevy, Compassion chief executive and administration manager, this week told the Horowhenua Chronicle that Compassion Horowhenua would not be a community housing provider.

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An HNZ spokesperson this week said that HNZ may agree to the transfer of HDC's loan obligations to Compassion Horowhenua if protections are retained to ensure the properties remain within social housing.

The spokesperson said HNZ had yet to discuss the purchase with HDC.

The $5.2 million suspensory loan is interest free and expires in 2029 at which point no payments are required if the housing has been kept as social housing.

However, even once the properties are sold and the loan transferred to the purchaser, HDC - under the terms of the loan - has to guarantee the loan until it expires, and HNZ can call on HDC for repayment if there is a "serious breach" by the purchaser.

Earlier this year, Horowhenua GreyPower's Lew Rohloff described the loan guarantee as "exposing the serious risk of HDC's liability to Housing New Zealand" while HDC chief executive David Clapperton said the prospect of default was unlikely.

Sisters of Compassion also owns 93 Upper Hutt social housing units, which it purchased from Upper Hutt City Council 17 years ago.

The Upper Hutt units are managed by Compassion Housing, a registered community housing provider owned by Sisters of Compassion that HDC has said will also manage the Horowhenua units once sold.