Many of Wellington's low-income renters and essential workers will soon live in affordable inner-city apartments, thanks to a council initiative which aims to ease housing pressures in the capital.
Wellington City Council has signed a 15-year lease with the Wellington Company to provide the Te Kāinga Aroha apartments located at 195 Willis St
Mayor Andy Foster said the programme was part of the council's answer to easing the renting struggles in the capital by providing affordable long-term rental accommodation.
"The Te Kāinga programme partnership with the private sector to deliver affordable rental accommodation is a first for New Zealand," he said.
"To have our first tangible example of these efforts is extremely exciting to share with Wellingtonians.
"We currently have a further 300 apartments in the pipeline we are aiming to deliver in the next few years, and will make further announcements about this in the coming months."
The council was seeking expressions of interest from potential tenants, including renters who worked in "essential public sector roles", those who were on a low income - under $85,000 for an individual and $130,000 for a group - and who were not eligible for income related rent.
Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons, the housing portfolio lead, said councillors had been unanimous in their support for this project.
"We have heard so many stories of people who cannot find a warm, dry home to live in," she said.
"These homes are about making sure our teachers, nurses and other public sector workers can work and live in our city," said Fitzsimons.
Te Kāinga Aroha offered 52 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, all including whiteware, free WiFi, bike storage and rubbish disposal.
Rents, which were assessed against the Wellington Housing Affordability model, started at $410 for a one-bed, $580 for a two-bed and $750 for a three-bed apartment.
A partnership between the council and The Wellington Company, the initiative was "cost-neutral", meaning there would be no impact on ratepayers, said the council.
TWC was responsible for construction and asset management, while the council would manage the tenancies.
Fitzsimons said it was only the beginning of council partnerships with building owners, and they welcomed other approaches from other developers interested in working with the council.