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Waiheke Island trust hopes to offer affordable housing

Waiheke Community Housing Trust has launched to help tackle a housing crisis on the island.

The new group is raising money to buy two adjacent properties on Waiheke Road, where affordable rental housing can be provided for 13 people.

This is the first of a portfolio of affordable housing the trust hopes to offer, trustees Christine Gisby and Paul Carew said.

Long-term residents who are aged over 55 and families with children will be able to apply to rent the homes at 80 per cent of market rentals.

Gisby and Carew said the island is losing essential workers and the diversity of its residents as rental prices escalate beyond what many can afford.

Speculators have pushed up property prices and many long-term rentals are now used for holiday accommodation, leaving people struggling to find a place to call home.

"Every week families are having to leave the island because they can't afford to be here.

"The housing trust won't sort out the whole housing crisis on the island - however, we want to sow a seed.

"We want people to give some thought that renting properties for high market rents is destroying the community," Gisby said.

A public meeting to launch the project will be held from 1.30pm to 3pm on Saturday, July 29 at the Old Blackpool School Hall.

The trust has three months to find $280,000 for a deposit to buy the first properties, which will cost $732,000.

Construction and renovation will bring the total cost to $1.33 million.

The first project will involve renovating a three-bedroom cottage and building a four-bedroom house and three small apartments, two of which will have wheelchair access.

Solar hot water heating will be installed to reduce power costs for tenants.

People can donate or loan money and offer materials, equipment, labour or make other contributions.

"We're hoping the whole community will assist with the build," Gisby said.

Although several houses will be on the properties, they will be "beautiful, environmentally sustainable and economical", she said.

Home owners who want to offer their houses for rent at 80 per cent of market rates can contact the trust to manage their properties.

Waiheke Island is a 35-minute ferry ride from Auckland and its solution to housing pressures in a popular tourist destination is unique.

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