Centre handed reprieve

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Uncertainty over the future of Queenstown’s Happiness House has been removed.

It ain’t moving – or at least not for two years.

The community support centre, which supports families and individuals struggling with high rents and living costs, has leased Park Street premises near the CBD for 14 years, but had faced eviction from the end of October.

Management and trustees had intended applying for resource consent for premises at Frankton as a short-term solution.

However their landlord Dayou Cheng, of China, has now allowed them to stay for two more years.

Cheng bought the premises at auction in June last year for more than $2.2 million – one of the resort’s highest per-square metre sales.

Happiness House general manager Robyn Fraser says Cheng was excited to learn about what the centre does during a visit last Saturday.

“I think he really took quite a bit of pride in the fact this was a community resource, and that it was something he was able to back and support.”

Trust chairperson Nanette Benington says “he’s kept the rent at a very reasonable level, as did our past landlords”.

The duo are delighted at their stay of execution, however their five-to-10-year plan is still for permanent premises in Queenstown, where more than 40 per cent of Happiness House clients come from, including Fernhill and Arthurs Point, or Frankton.

Fraser says they’re hoping to talk to mayor Jim Boult about long-term options for housing social services.

“We’re impressed that the council has seen the need and invited all groups in its region to partake in a recent survey of their accommodation needs.

“It is important to us that residents, migrant settlers and tourists have access to the range of support services, and that groups are able to sustainably operate here.”

The resort’s only drop-in centre, Happiness House is also a resource centre for affordable clothing and homeware and, every Friday, free produce.

Activities include crafts, cooking on a budget and growing one’s own produce.

“We have wonderful volunteers and support from businesses that help us provide these activities,” Fraser says.

In the last financial year, 11,494 people used the service.

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