Whanganui District Council will appoint a new role dedicated to housing as it looks to implement some of its housing strategy.
Last winter the district had an estimated 40 homeless people, and a long waiting list for Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities accommodation.
There were another estimated 700 in insecure accommodation.
Whanganui councillors, at their August 25 strategy and finance committee meeting, asked about other progress to alleviate the housing shortage.
Safer Whanganui manager Lauren Tamehana told councillors this week that underutilised land suitable for housing has been found, but needed legal processes before it could be built on.
Infill housing has been "going gangbusters", council principal planner Hamish Lampp said.
In 2019 there were 35 applications to subdivide that resulted in 83 new sections for houses. This year there were 31 applications that will result in 77 new lots.
Councillor Philippa Baker-Hogan asked for a snapshot of how homeless people were faring.
Several councillors wanted deadlines for completed actions.
Tamehana has been taken up with the homeless situation during Covid-19.
She said the Whanganui People's Centre was ensuring homeless people were put into accommodation and linked with the Ministry for Social Development where necessary.
Other opportunities have not been progressed, and that will change when a new housing role at the council begins in four to six weeks, chief executive Kym Fell said.
Councillor Hadleigh Reid urged his colleagues not to be impatient. His own property developments have taken two years.
"Nothing is really holding me up. It just takes time," he said.
Mayor Hamish McDouall has talked to Kāinga Ora staff.
"They have attempted to expand what they're offering us at this time. We have a crisis - so does the rest of New Zealand. I think their investment is heading elsewhere," he said.
Meanwhile, Bignell St Caravan Park has recently changed ownership.
Sunil Kumar, who also owns the Grand Hotel and Liffiton Castle, plans to tidy it up and restore it.
He bought the Bignell St business six months ago and plans to rename it Sunshine Studios and Caravan Park, and is progressively tidying its 38 motel units.
He's planning to add a security gate and some "beautiful brand new cabins", and have live-in staff on site.
Real estate agent Ross Watson has been managing tenancies there for the last two years.
Watson said when Whanganui's housing shortage hit people started staying longer, and tenancy agreements were needed.