Family swoons over house certainty

New digs: Dean and Theresa Swain

1dec-housing-dinkusA family of five feared they’d have to flee Queenstown after being evicted from their rental house of 10 years.

Long-term locals Dean and Theresa Swain, who between them have notched up more than 45 years in the resort, and their three born-and-bred Queenstown boys and two cats, were given notice to leave in June.

The landlord was selling the house, before the lease expired.

Getting on the property ladder wasn’t an option and they couldn’t afford advertised rentals.

After initial panic and significant stress the family have moved into a Shotover Country house, with help from Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust.

Dean: “It was very real. If this hadn’t come up our next option was to move. We didn’t want to leave – this is our home.”

The Swains are the 100th household the non-profit organisation has helped since setting up in 2008.

The trust now has 27 homes in Lake Hayes Estate, 10 in Arrowtown and the Swains’ is one of 44 in Shotover Country. Ten more are being built in Albert Town, Wanaka.

Trust boss Julie Scott says the Swain family, who were on its waiting list, are the perfect example of those they want to help.

Houses are allocated on a highest needs basis.

The Swains ticked boxes due to their community involvement – Theresa’s a local ballet teacher and Dean drives the Salvation Army truck.

All three boys, aged 11,12 and 15, are enrolled in local schools.

Scott: “It was a no-brainer for us to help these guys.”

Through the trust’s affordable rental scheme the Swains have the certainty of a house for the next five years.

Using the money they’ve saved, they might be able to join the trust’s shared ownership programme after that.

It may be a fairytale ending for the Swain family, but Scott worries for other locals.

“We have over 370 households on our waiting list now. It is great we have just helped our 100th but we nearly have four times that. These are eligible households who meet our criteria and need assistance.

“The issue of finding affordable rental accommodation or first-time buyer [homes] has just got out of control.”

The Swains, practically swooning in thanks, say the support has been a life-changer – especially for their boys, who were struggling with uncertainty.

Dean: “It not only secures our future here but also the future of our boys. We can see light at the end of the tunnel.

“We love Queenstown and we don’t want to leave. We have seen a number of families here that have had to because rent is too high, and they can’t make ends meet.”