Council costs relating to the Bella Vista Homes saga have hit $500,000 as homeowners are pushed to find other avenues of financial support.
A Tauranga City Council project team and chief executive Garry Poole have spent the last two days meeting individually with owners of the 21 evicted Bella Vista homes, with more meetings planned for Monday.
One affected homeowner, however, says her meeting provided little new information, and another says his request for further accommodation funding has been turned down.
The homeowners have had one victory, however, with the council confirming yesterday it will stop charging rates to the affected properties until they can be reoccupied.
The rates relief would be backdated to March 9, when the council evacuated the homes - all of which have since been declared dangerous - with about four hours' notice as Cyclone Hola approached.
Yesterday, the council stopped paying homeowners the accommodation supplement they had been provided for the first five weeks after the evictions.
In a meeting with homeowners on Tuesday, the council said they could apply for further financial support if they could show they had special circumstances.
Council communications manager Aimee Driscoll said the council had received nine requests for continued accommodation support.
Each would be assessed on an individual basis.
"We require owners to demonstrate to us that they have exhausted all other avenues for financial assistance, including claims to their insurance company, requesting a deferral of mortgage payments, or any other financial arrangements which may be available," Driscoll said.
"We have also asked that they provide evidence of the losses that they are incurring as a result of this situation.
"We are very conscious that this is ratepayer-funded and costs need to be monitored closely."
Homeowner Tony Mann, who was living in a motel with his three daughters, said his request for further support had been turned down.
The council has, however, extended his accommodation supplement to April 30 to give him more time to collate evidence of his financial situation and find a house to rent.
"I have to go back and explain why I have special circumstances. I guess paying a mortgage and not living in your house is not good enough."
Mann said he had been looking for rentals without success, due to the uncertainty of his situation - "do I need a short term or long term rental?" - and a lack of suitable houses.
"We've got nowhere to go yet."
It was hard to see people on social media slating homeowners over costs the council had incurred as a result of the saga, as none of them felt the situation was their fault, he said.
Jenny Coffey said council staff did not deal with the special circumstances request she and husband Damian had submitted in their individual meeting yesterday.
The meeting "didn't tell us anything we didn't already know" about their property, which they lived in for 18 months before being evacuated.
The council has since admitted their house, along with three others, should not have been given a code of compliance certificate.
Coffey said council staff went through the report on their house with them, but the upshot was still that they would need to wait until June 6 for the elected members to make a decision on the next steps.
Fallout costs hit $500k
The council has spent approximately $500,000 from its ratepayer-funded contingency funds on the following costs related to the Bella Vista issues:
- Temporary accommodation
- Security at the site
- Daily allowances
- Expert fees