Need for ‘greater action’ recognised

Queensotwn’s council will not pay to get 32 empty Lynch Block cabins it owns up to healthy homes standards, despite letting the potential
homes fall into disrepair over “several years” of ownership.

This month Mountain Scene revealed 32 of the 45 cabins on the site are sitting empty, at a time when the rental housing crisis is the worst it’s ever been.

Queenstown mayor Glyn Lewers says council prioritised $370,000 to renovate the 13 cabins now leased to people in need but there is “no budget” to bring the remaining empty cabins up to liveable standard.

Based on the amount spent to renovate the 13 cabins, less than $1 million would be required to get the other 32 up to scratch.

However, the mayor says “the condition of the [empty] cabins varies, and each would require different investment to meet the standards’’.

“These cabins are not in a condition for a quick fix and would be unlawful to lease without meeting the healthy homes standards.

“I absolutely recognise the current housing issues facing many in our community and sympathise with those affected.

‘‘I also recognise the need for greater action.

“Fundamentally, council is not a housing provider and many decisions need to be made at a national level.

‘‘As a local council there are some things we can do and others that require intervention from central government.”

As also revealed in Scene, Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust proposes to take control of Lynch Block to develop 150 rental units to house hundreds of people in desperate need, in a submission to council’s draft annual plan.

Lewers says he’s “fully aware” of the trust’s interest in the site, but no decision’s been made.

He concedes ‘‘council has agreed to consider that the future use of the Lynch Block involves some form of afforable housing’’.

Queenstown councillor Matt Wong says council has three options for Lynch Block — either “we sell it, park it or develop it’’.

“We need to bring it to council and decide on one of those three outcomes.’’

Lewers reveals council is soon to launch an online information hub called Winter Manaaki on its website, containing links and resources for those affected by the housing crisis.

“It also includes lots of great information for people who want to help, perhaps by offering a spare room or a place to live.”

It comes as Lewers confirms the adopt-a-worker scheme, proposed in council’s draft joint action housing plan, has been dumped.

‘‘We were actively exploring options to set up a matching process between people who may have spare rooms, and businesses with workers who need accommodation.

“While we worked hard to get third-party support, the circumstances have been hugely challenging for everyone and unfortunately we weren’t able to progress this option.”

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