Hamilton City Council today voted to put pensioner housing on the market to social housing providers from February 23.

The tenancy of those currently living in the units will be protected, and they will be able to stay indefinitely. Units that are vacant must continue to be used for social housing for 10 years following the sale in order to prevent a decrease in social housing provided in Hamilton.

Councillor Philip Yeung said social housing is different from pensioner housing, and the amount of pensioner housing may decrease as a result of the sale.

Councillor Margaret Forsyth said youth were the most vulnerable in society currently, and there needed to be social housing available to them also.

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Any remaining unsold units will be brought back to council for further consideration.

Council voted nine votes to three to sell the portfolio of 344 units. Councillors Yeung, Gallagher and Wilson voted against the motion. Councillor Macpherson was absent from the meeting.

The council chambers were full, with many pensioner housing tenants present, most of whom were upset by the decision.

Councillors who voted in favour of the sale felt social housing providers would provide a better service for the residents than council had.

Grey Power Waikato president Roger Hennebry said, "It is not just a house, it is their family they will have to move from [if they have to move].

"I'm still not happy you're selling them, but I am happy you're taking it upon yourselves not to evict [residents]."