It's a double-edged sword. The city needs a new mental health facility, but it also needs housing.
But it appears one will come at the cost of another.
In a letter on June 10, the Tauranga Community Housing Trust broke the news of a coming notice to vacate to residents of 31 units on Clarke St.
The one-bedroom units were on land owned by the Bay of Plenty District Health Board, which planned to redevelop it for a $30 million mental health facility.
While the plan was subject to approval by the Ministry of Health, the DHB said access to the land was necessary for the proposed new facility to proceed.
Resident Robyn Silva told the Bay of Plenty Times through tears she has just been trying to hold it together since receiving the letter.
"I'm really angry.
"At my age, it was really hard to find housing, because when people want flatmates they are looking for people in their 20s and I know there is sweet f*** all out there."
She was already trying to move her mother, who suffers from dementia, into a secure unit in Auckland. The added stress of now having to also find a house for herself was too much.
Silva, who could not afford market rent on her supported living benefit, worried the Clark St residents would not be able to find new homes in Tauranga, which has a documented shortage of small, affordable housing.
"The need for a community mental health unit I know is huge because I have used it myself.
"All the hotels in Tauranga are filled with vulnerable people because of Covid-19.
We are all incredibly vulnerable and soon to be homeless. So where do we go?"
Other residents, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Bay of Plenty Times they were trying to remain positive but felt left in limbo.
"It was a bit of a blow. I'm not really sure [what I'm going to do] yet, I don't want to panic," one said.
"It is upset a lot of the people around her, they don't know which way to turn. And the majority of people here are from the mental health sector, but we are just trying to keep positive so we don't go into that black space again."
The residents were not sure who was now responsible for finding them a home and felt let down by the trust for not informing them sooner.
Trust general manager Jacqui Ferrel said the trust alerted residents within a few weeks of receiving a notification from the DHB "this side of Covid".
"We wanted to know we had all the facts from the DHB before we told the tenants ... we have limited information to tell them because we don't even know when the tenancy is going to end.
"We have told the tenants long before we are legally required to because that wouldn't be the fair thing to do in my mind."
The notice states, "We are legally required to give you a minimum of 90 days formal notice to vacate the property and we will do this at the appropriate time."
The land has been managed by the trust for years and had always been intended for use by the DHB, eventually. Residents were aware of this, Ferrel said.
It was ironic that many of the residents were current users of the mental health service or other parts of the health service, she said.
While the development was good news for the community, Ferrel said it was not good news from a housing stock perspective.
"The reality is, that it is going to be a challenge for many of them. There aren't very many one-bedroom units that are affordable in the city.
"We're the landlord, and we will do everything we can to help them find another home but they also need to get involved in their house hunt."
DHB interim chief executive Simon Everit said it was organising a team of specialist health professionals to support and work alongside the residents and the trust once, and if, the process began.
"We appreciate every resident will have their own unique set of circumstances and want to support them so that any change in accommodation is as seamless as possible."
He said the DHB was in the process of finishing the plans for the $30m facility, with construction scheduled to start in July 2021.
Any land required for the build would need to be vacant by March 2021.
The plan was to use part of the existing Te Whare Maiangiangi Unit facility at Tauranga Hospital and add on new buildings for an inpatient area.
"Our plans have not yet been finalised and we are still at the stage of working up site options and designs.
"The only land available to the DHB for this project is on the site currently occupied by the units."
Everitt said the project would be subject to Ministry of Health approval before any construction could start.
The DHB bought the land from the Tauranga RSA 13 years ago knowing that, with an increasing population and demand for services, it would one day be needed.
It was the ninth-lowest of 24 mental health units assessed from buildings built before 2010 in The Current State Assessment report released by the Ministry of Health.
Funding for the project was announced in the Ministry of Health's Wellness Budget in December 2019.