A couple of councilors in charge of senior housing in Marlborough declined an invitation to discuss possible rent increases with affected tenants.
A meeting is being held at John’s Kitchen in Blenheim on Thursday after a report by Marlborough District Council last month suggested rents for senior housing should rise 35 percent to keep pace with ” market”.
Marlborough District Council has a self-imposed rule that the rent it charges for senior housing must be less than 80 percent of the average rental price in Blenheim.
Meeting organizer Sue Brien said she had extended an invitation to two senior housing subcommittee advisers and Gray Power Marlborough, but they declined, saying it was “too soon. “. Brien lived in one of the council’s 174 senior housing units.
Jenni Schreuder says rent increases proposed in a council report last week would be “unpayable” for many elderly tenants.
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Seniors Housing Subcommittee member Mark Peters told Brien in an email, seen by a local democracy reporter, that he would be “very happy” to attend a meeting with tenants aged once a rent increase has been proposed.
Until then, there was nothing to discuss, Peters later told the reporter. However, some seniors feared that once a rent increase was proposed it might be too late and wanted to be heard before a figure was tabled.
“The numbers that were released in the media were numbers we can hit, but that doesn’t mean we will,” Peters said last week. “We are sympathetic advice and will take everything into account when reviewing our rental assessment later this year.”
The council increased rents for senior housing by around 30% in 2018, saying at the time it was a ‘reset’. The council had not increased rent for several years prior to 2018, which made its portfolio “financially unsustainable”.
Following this decision, council agreed that rents for senior housing would be reviewed annually to keep increases manageable.
But a report to the subcommittee in March described the weekly rent increases – $ 66 for a bed and $ 78 for a two-bed – needed to stay in line with market rates.
These increases were equivalent to an increase of approximately 35%. Retirees said the increase would be “impossible” to pay.
Brien, 70, said she couldn’t sit and do nothing.
“Someone has to stand up for us retirees,” she said.
Brien said she considered canceling the meeting after Gray Power Marlborough and subcommittee members Mark Peters and Jenny Andrews declined invitations to attend.
But she went ahead after learning that there was “great interest in the reunion” among the tenants.
“There are a lot of worried people… who are afraid of what a rent increase will mean to them. They must be able to express their opinions.
“We want tenants living in council houses to know that they are not alone, that we care about each other.”
She planned to distribute flyers around the main council units, urging tenants to “broadcast [their] opinions ”during the meeting, the result being a letter to the board.
Jenny Andrews said she didn’t see the point in attending the meeting at this time.
“I think it’s premature and better for them to wait until they have the facts.”
Gray Power Marlborough chairman Gayle Chambers said members would not be in attendance because the board had not decided to increase rent this year.
But Niel Sowry, who was helping to organize the meeting, believed seniors would be better off if they were heard before a raise was offered.
“We believe the council should know how people in senior housing feel before making a rental proposal. To increase their rates [to] 80 percent of the current market rate, people just won’t be able to afford it, ”he said.
Sowry and his wife had previously submitted to the council’s long-term plan calling for this year’s increase in senior citizens’ housing not to exceed the increase in government pensions or the increase in inflation this year.
The NZ Super Deduction Policy allows the Department of Social Development to deduct the value of “level 2” overseas pensions received by retirees from their NZ Super payments.
“[Pensioners] generally have very modest and generally fixed incomes. … even consider increasing [their rent] beyond their ability to pay, it is scary for them and irresponsible on the part of the board, ”they said in their brief.
The Sowrys said market rates were influenced by housing availability, supply chain constraints and a nationwide shortage of tradespeople, so they were “utterly meaningless and out of place. About ‘when setting the rent for upper council housing.
The council’s senior housing subcommittee was scheduled to discuss rents for senior housing at a meeting on July 1. Any rent increase would take effect on October 13.
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