The Government plans to establish a 19-unit village in Papamoa offering short-term housing for homeless families.

However, the proposal has created anxiety among neighbours.

Letters went out yesterday to 100 householders adjoining the vacant 6500sq m council-owned block in Opal Drive.

It coincided with Associate Social Housing Minister Alfred Ngaro visiting the site and announcing that the Government had "big plans" for more social housing in the Bay.


Families would stay for an average of 12 weeks in the transitional housing village, receiving support until they were ready to move into permanent accommodation.

Housing New Zealand and the Ministry of Social Development have lodged a resource consent application for the village with Tauranga City Council and hoped to start shifting pre-assembled houses on to the site in late August.

The housing would be managed by a local transitional housing provider, yet to be appointed.

Mr Ngaro said the selection process for families would not only look at those with the highest need but also how well they fitted into the dynamic of the village and the services offered.

The housing provider would likely decide that a single person with a history of violence was not appropriate to be housed in a development designed for families, he said.

While all the neighbours spoken to by the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend yesterday supported the need for transitional housing to ease the city's housing shortage, the potential impacts of having 19 families on to one site rang alarm bells.

Virginia Cumming who has lived opposite the site for 16 years feared the village could have a "terrible" impact.

She said they had enough problems in the area without an influx of desperate people. "It has got really bad around here. This could make it worse."


She said people experiencing a housing crisis were not necessarily troublemakers, but not everyone was well behaved. Residents wanted assurances about who would be living in the village. "We don't know the sort of people they will be bringing in. Will it be hard up beneficiaries like myself."

Another neighbour Pauline, who did not want her surname published, had mixed feelings even though the village would be good for the city.

"There will be 19 families coming in and out all the time. There may be other issues that come with people not having a home."

Her questions included the criteria for who would live in the village and what the children would be doing if they were not attending school during the 12 weeks "We don't know until it is up and running what effects it will have."

She said it was a good thing that the village would be monitored 24/7 by an on-site provider who looked after the tenancies and provided support to residents.

Resident Kelvin Binnie said if it helped homeless people, then that was good enough for him. "I have been in that situation myself."

Adjoining Summerland Crescent resident Karen Birch said a lot of people were living in tents and it would be great to offer them something. Ludicrously high rents were pushing good families out of homes and she hoped the village would get them back on their feet.
However, she did not want ''heaps of riff-raff'' added to the neighbourhood."

Mr Ngaro said he understood that for some residents the thought of people they had never met coming into their neighbourhood could be unsettling and he was committed to keeping locals updated on progress.

Village residents would receive support tailored to help them find permanent housing. It would include parenting and life skills, budgeting advice, health services, and linking with other social services.

''This isn't just about a roof. We know that many families are facing other challenges which is why they will receive on-site tailored support.''

Mr Ngaro said the focus was on creating a safe, warm, dry and attractive development for both the families that lived there and those living nearby. The development would include children's play areas and plenty of green spaces.

The village follows a template developed in Auckland, with the transportable houses able to be shifted if the council required the land for other purposes.

Silver Birch Holiday Park owner Tony Makai welcomed the initiative, saying it would give families somewhere to go.

"Some of the families that come here have been living in cars and vans - the village will get them into a house."

Last month a family of nine stayed three weeks in one of their cabins until they found a house. "I absolutely welcome this village."

Government plans for social housing in the Bay
- Village of 19 two and three-bedroom units due to start late August
- 49 additional transitional houses for Tauranga by the end of 2017
- 290 new properties in the Bay for long-term social housing