Longford centre making way for public housing

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New project. . . Kainga Ora Otago Southland regional director Kerrie Young says buying Gore’s Longford Function Centre will enable the entity to build up to 20 new state owned houses for people who can not afford private rental accommodation. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Kainga Ora is about to help address Gore’s housing shortage.

The entity formerly known as Housing New Zealand has bought the Longford Function Centre.

The site, which was the home of the Gore Country Music Club, will be cleared and new houses built.

Otago Southland regional director Kerrie Young said the planned development was a “huge step forward for public housing delivery in the region”.

“We’re hoping to build up to 20 new warm, dry homes, which will go a long way towards meeting housing need in Gore,” she said.

Ms Young declined to say what price was paid for the function centre.

Public housing, also known as state housing was a vital part of New Zealand’s social support system, she said.

“[It] is for people who can’t afford a private rental, where the Government pays part of the rent.

“Currently there are 24 households on the public housing waiting list in the Gore area.”

The design for the site was not known yet but the way people’s lives had changed significantly from times when post-war state houses were built, Ms Young said.

Therefore Kainga Ora aimed to build homes that met the needs of today’s customers.

“Our housing developments today look and feel very different to the state housing areas of old.”

Significant planning went into the developments to provide homes that fitted well into their environment, she said.

All new homes were built to a New Zealand Green Building Council minimum 6 Homestar rating, exceeding building code standards for warmth, dryness and health.

“Our homes today have a lower carbon footprint, use less energy and are more affordable to heat and cool.”

How much the development would cost was unknown.

Depending on consenting processes, work could start on site from mid next year, with the homes ready for whanau to move into from the end of 2024.

The entity’s strategy for the Southland region was to increase its stock of rental properties, she said.

“We’re constantly looking at opportunities throughout the region to grow the number of warm, dry homes for people in need.”

The new homes in Gore will add to 14 new public homes under construction in Invercargill.

Options were being explored to deliver another 50 to 100 homes in the region before June 2024.

Kainga Ora has 40 homes in Gore, 379 in Invercargill, and a further four in the Southland region.

The Ministry of Social Development decided who qualified for public housing.

Once a person was on the housing register, Kainga Ora helped find them a home to match their needs.

“As part of our commitment to helping our customers live well in their homes, we talk to them about their connections to schooling, the community and other groups to help us to find the right home and neighbourhood for them and their whanau.”

The entity would keep the community informed with regular updates as progress was made on the development, Ms Young said.

Gore Country Music Club president Julie Mitchell said it was a good outcome for the club.

“The club can now move forward with our future plans, and it’s so good the site is going to continue to benefit the local community.

“It’s exciting to see more new development in East Gore.”