Agency seeks new digs

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Seeking premises: From left, Happiness House coordinator Niki Mason, chairperson Nanette Benington and senior staff member Tiana Fraser

Queenstown’s Happiness House is after a new home.

The landlord for the community support centre – based at 4 Park Street for the past 13 years – has given notice that its lease won’t be renewed after October next year.

Originally set up about 25 years ago, Happiness House supports hundreds of families and individuals throughout the year, many struggling due to the resort’s high rents and living costs.

Trust chairperson Nanette Benington says they’ve been well looked after by their Park St landlord, and are grateful they’ve been given plenty of notice.

She’s keen to hear from anyone who can offer replacement premises, preferably in central Queenstown or else in Frankton.

The trust, she says, is able to pay some rent, albeit not market rent, thanks to support from the local council and community trusts.

Ideally, the house would be accessible, child- and family-friendly, at least as big as their current small three-bedroom home, and have room for a garden.

“The home-like setting is what draws people,” Benington says.

“We’ve got a big wish-list but I think we’d be open to whatever was available.

“We could share premises, but we’d need separate access to maintain the confidentiality of our clients.”

Though the tenure situation’s worrying, Benington says “it also potentially presents an exciting opportunity to extend our services”.

She says that in the longer term, they hope to find permanent premises.

Coordinator Niki Mason adds: “Every year, our numbers increase – the place is growing at such a pace and rents are so high, so we’re a big part of the community.”

Besides offering the resort’s only drop-in centre, she says Happiness House provides several pro-grammes including a gardening group which shows people how to grow their own produce.

They also sell second-hand clothing, and, with support from local supermarkets, give away food parcels every Friday.

Benington says Happiness House is in a sound position financially and management-wise, and receives great support from the community.

She’s just hoping that support extends to a friendly landlord.

The centre’s email is: happinesshouse@xtra.co.nz

scoop@scene.co.nz