A workshop next month will be the next step in determining the future of Whanganui District Council's pensioner housing portfolio.

As part of its 2015-25 10-Year District Plan, council decided that there were other non-profit community groups better placed to manage the pensioner houses but more importantly provide greater care for the tenants in those units.

The workshop comes at a time when the Horowhenua council and Government have joined forces to find a provider to look after that council's 115 flats along with 249 state houses in Foxton, Levin and Shannon. The union underlines central government view that pensioner housing is not the domain of local government.

Whanganui Mayor Annette Main said a working group had been looking at this issue and it included representatives from local organisations with an interest in community housing.


"This group was formed as a result of our proposed plan in 2015 to move similarly to Horowhenua," Ms Main said.

She said the group has commissioned some research and this would be the subject of a council workshop next month.

"Government has suggested that community housing is not the domain of local government and we agreed that there may be other providers who can provide wider range of care services to residents than a council."

The council oversees 275 pensioner flats in 16 complexes and 11 relocatable granny flats.

A level of welfare assistance is provided to some tenants, with the council contracting Age Concern Whanganu as that provider.

The flats are available to people 55 years and over with limited financial resources who can live independently. But despite offering low rentals, occupancy has averaged around 89 per cent in the past four years.

Council said it would have to borrow $100,000 to $160,000 a year over the next decade or maintenance would have to be reduced.

"The majority of the submitters on this issue to our 10-Year Plan didn't agree with the proposal to sell all or some of portfolio," Ms Main said.

After considering those submissions council committed to ensuring its involvement in pensioner housing did not require ratepayer funding.

"We'll engage with the working group to review the best use of the portfolio and/or proceeds of any sale or partial sale. We're committed to ensuring our tenants are well cared for and there are favourable quality and affordable housing options available," she said.