Exciting Social Housing In The North

This week Joanna and I caught up with Rhys Head from Homeco to have a look at his Iwi backed social housing project for Mana Waitaha Trust in Woodend.

Prefabricated in Homeco’s factory and assembled on site, these two and three bedroom homes are HomeStar 8 rated, ready for PV solar panels and with EV charger ready car ports.

Laminated timber from Nelson and overseas producers is prefabricated in to standardised panels. Rhys explained to us that he is keen to see a production plant for the chip wood paneling they use but first we have to establish a local market which is one of the goals for this factory.

The entire home is staged in the factory meaning that stakeholders (normally clients) can walk through the building and request changes before it’s even on the site.

The completed walls, on site, have an Energy Star rating of 8. R2.6 bats combined with a range of other materials to push the external structure to a very insulated construction with very limited internal air changes means that the heat you put into the home doesn’t escape, a concern for tenants with very limited income.

The entire home can be packed into a 20 foot shipping container. The benefit of this is creating the ability to ship the buildings around the country by rail or world by ship. These panels already have all the insulation installed.

On site, the roof is built, on the foundation slab, before the walls are delivered and then craned on to the erected walls. This means that the entire structure can be closed in within a day. The benefit is faster construction meaning lower cost while also making a nicer space for everyone to work.

Let’s Look Inside On Site

Massive amounts of storage, accessible bathroom, wide doorways for wheelchair access, power points for your EV charger, tiny heat pumps (because you just don’t need a bigger one!), large kitchens complete with dishwasher, fibre ready, high stand toilets and the most magical windows you’ve ever seen!

The double glassed windows on this build will be triple on the next construction. These windows are made from recyclable plastic so they’re warm to the touch. They open in two different ways (a video of this will be on the site next week), meaning that you can open them fully in summer when you’re home or peg them ‘ajar’ with confidence that the home is secure.

Rhys has a show room in the city with all the different building technology and construction plans on display. His passion is building homes that are kinder to people and the environment. For example you may have noticed that these social homes had car ports rather than locked up garages. He explained to me that is so that a garage doesn’t get transformed into someones ‘low quality bedroom’.

Started in July 2019 and completed to this stage by December 2019, these units are fast to build and finish which delivered a much lower cost meaning that much more value can be delivered for social housing tenants. Oh, and if you’re wondering about that plastic clip board in the top of the image, it’s not a clip board, but more about that in a future post!

All Cleaned Up – Harman Courts Front Yard

Well the good news is that the front yard clean up at Harman Courts got finished today! Yeah!

Let’s hope there aren’t to many more of these sorts of issues hiding in the wood work because they’re really expensive! They’re expensive because once they start, the rubbish just keeps pilling in as was seen at Harman Courts.

Thanks to everyone involved in following it up.

The biggest learning for CCC and OCHT from this should be that when you say you’re going to do something, give yourself enough time! If you’d said it will take 3 weeks then sure, we would have questioned why we can’t get resources sorted sooner, but saying 24 hours was likely a bit unrealistic too. 🙂

I think the biggest thought for tenants has to be that if you see someone moving out and can see they’re over whelmed with rubbish then reach out for help! The dump just isn’t that expensive, plenty of places have a free/borrow trailer and we can put the hat around for dumping fees if your stuck, we can also put the hat around for petrol money.

WHERE DOES THE OCHT BOARD STAND?

Earlier today Vicki Buck, OCHT board member, popped up on Facebook to offer assistance with the rubbish issue at Harman Courts.

I had a bunch of questions for Vicki as I simply don’t understand the view of the board towards social housing.

I wrote….

Hi Vicki,

I tagged you to start to raise awareness with others that you are one of 7 board members on the trust.

https://www.ocht.org.nz/about/ocht-board/

Frankly I see a whole pile of issues here and I don’t know what the answers are.

On one hand this rubbish has sat for months (I’m told), on the other hand has it been left their at the knowing direction of the board to send a clear public message to the rest of the tenants?

Sitting in council meetings (you were there, you saw me sitting quietly), speaking with council staff, the message comes across very clearly that there is a great amount of division around the question of a civic response to housing.

http://oursocialhousing.nz/why-do-we-need-ccc-social…/

Speaking with Martin Pearce, Tenancy Operations Manager, on Thursday, he appeared to hold the view that hosting a rubbish dump on one of the complexes in their control, wasn’t appropriate and that they should simply take ownership and clean this mess up. However I get the clear impression that his view is not representative of the board, or perhaps the CEO would have made sure that mess was going on Friday as promised.

MORE LAYERS TO THE ONION

However there appears to be many more layers to this question than first appeared.

No sooner did some action on some part of the clean up get under way, I got another ping from a resident about three more quite reasonable issues at the same complex. Needless to say I’ve now got the message that I really need to do a site visit and have a look, perhaps you’d like to join me?

GOVERNANCE

From a governance point of view, I actually don’t know what the boards view is, and I’d like to.

If you want to make phone calls and follow something up, perhaps you’d like to call me and get me on the same page as the board around expectations – my number is 0211140699

At present there is less than 70% of the housing stock open according to information provided to election candidates.

Board members tell me they’re pleased with a $700,000+ saving on maintenance, but the same time it would appear (if I’m to believe tenants) that this has come about by simply not doing maintenance.

COLD

39% percent of tenants report being cold (according to the trusts own published survey), so getting a funding allocation for heating seemed like a great idea.

However, a month after that was approved by council, I’m told by Martin that there is still no program of work and that we should expect to wait until at least Christmas to see a program. By the time we take out the holidays, that will leave just over two months to install 930 heating systems.

If it takes 4 months just to make a plan, it’s going to take longer than 12 months to install!

PRIVATE MESSAGING AND “THE FACEBOOK PUB”

Finally, while I do PM from time to time, this is an issue that needs to be in the public domain. Others may choose to moderate my views, some may choose to endorse them. We should remember that I am not a tenant.

I am simply a member of the public who sees a $273 million dollar civic asset (assuming an average value of $100,000 per unit) not making a return to the civic and providing a very poor level of service to its customers.

I see $6.6m dollars of lost revenue per year as well. At the same time civic is asking me to pay over 5% more rates this year.


How Do You Clean Up Rubbish?!

As of this afternoon there is still rubbish sitting in the front yard at 85 Poulson Street. Apparently the small stuff has gone, which is a start, but the big stuff is still there and this just isn’t good enough!

We’d be happy enough if a commitment had been made for next week, but the commitment was made for today, so we expect the work completed by today.

So much talk about mental health issues in this city. Well this is the sort of thing that just drives them. Social houses have the ‘edge case’ of society in them and they’re often most at risk of health deterioration.

Leaving this waste there is potentially expensive! On the living wage, a couple of guys to move this stuff will cost less than $200. However a doctor costs way more than that if this becomes a final straw.

It just doesn’t look like a big issue, but it’s this small stuff that makes a difference. Earlier in the year I did over 150 Snap Send Solve tickets in my immediate area and it just made a massive impact on how our part of the suburb presented. http://ccc.govt.nz/report/snap-send-solve/