Dunedin social housing

Recent discussion of social housing for Dunedin has been taking place on another thread.

What if? has copied and linked the previous conversations to this thread.

2010/07/29 at 9:33 pm
kate said:
{substituting new link from the DCC website -Eds}

Social Housing Strategy (PDF, 1.6 mb, new window)
The Social Housing Strategy provides a platform for the consideration of social housing issues right across Dunedin. Social housing is defined as the provision of accommodation assistance for individuals and families whose housing needs or circumstances are not adequately provided for by the private sector. The Strategy also directly addresses issues regarding the Dunedin City Council’s own social housing stock.

Post by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Architecture, Construction, Design, Economics, Geography, Inspiration, People, Politics, Project management, Site, Town planning, Urban design

67 responses to “Dunedin social housing

  1. Russell Garbutt

    The whole issue of Social Housing needs serious debate.

    As does the community care for the elderly or the terminally ill.

    My experience tells me that several companies offer very good ranges of care for the elderly. Places like Brooklands or Frances Hodgkins offer a range of care from self-contained units to dementia care or rest-home care. Many of these are of course based upon the collective supply of hot water, sewage and other services. My experience is also that these places are warm and staffed by people who genuinely care and who are also generally not well paid.

    But the fact is that many people cannot afford to shift into such units. All too often as well, the shift into more concentrated care relies upon the over-worked staff in the ODHB to provide assessments and the lack of facilities near family.

    It is incumbent upon our society to provide for our elderly and our sick, but it is sad to say that in areas like the Otago Community Hospice that funds are always in short supply. It seems that we have higher priorities in our spend.

    • Elizabeth

      At the risk of putting Russell’s comment (the most recent) on social housing in the wrong order, here are previous comments from the SH88 realignment thread:

      Fliss Butcher
      July 29, 2010 at 9:11 am

      One of your correspondents has been on my blog and manipulated what I was discussing by ignoring context and has accused moi of wanting to spend spend spend. This is wrong I am a very frugal person.

      She has copied a paragraph from the “Campus Future?” discussion from my blog. However I would like to thank her as she pointed out a flaw in my argument. I was assuming incorrectly that everyone knows that City Property developments are not rates funded but are paid for by endowment money and profits from clever property deals carried out by the department over many decades. I have changed that paragraph to now read :

      “What about forming a development company consisting of a collaboration of DCC (through its corporate arm and therefore no rates funding) of City Property, University of Otago, Otago Polytechnic and the private sector. Let’s call it Dunedin City Development Company (DCDC). Its mission is to identify and buy up large blocks of land around the city and build beautiful, warm, comfortable, people friendly, sustainable urban neighbourhoods (eco-neighbourhoods) that would also include co-housing. Just a little mission!”

      July 29, 2010 at 9:39 am

      Fliss, that’s a great idea. Elsewhere in the world it is local authorities who build modern residential subdivisions. For some reason, New Zealand seems to believe this is the wrong approach. Nice to know that 4 million people are right, and 6 billion people are wrong. I thoroughly endorse your proposals. A few years ago City Property did look at the idea of getting into the commercial housing market. But the idea was promptly slapped down by the Council of the day, on the grounds that DCC should not become competitive in the local housing market. And it’s never resurfaced since.

      I agree that City Property is self funded. And in some areas, that’s entirely appropriate. I do object, and have always objected, to social housing being forced to be self funding. I believe that part of the social responsibility of the DCC is to care for the most vunerable people of our society. And DCC falls down in that department when it comes to the standard of social housing. I’m not talking about the 7 new units being built every year which is a token gesture when the demand for social housing outstrips supply by 20+ new applications every year. And, to be honest, the new units are not being built with future technologies and demands in mind. I’m talking about the 1940s concrete block units offered to 90% of the occupants. Caring for the elderly is part of the reason why we pay rates, and I believe that ratepayer funding should be taken by City Property for those purposes. Maybe councillors should ask themselves one simply question before taking a position on the condition of DCC community housing as a result of current funding policies: “Would I have my grandmother live here ?”.

      July 29, 2010 at 9:55 am

      The new houses on Prince Albert Rd, built two to three years ago(?), are council owned. I notice they have what look like solar panels on their roofs and they are presumably properly insulated. What other ‘future technologies and demands’ do you have in mind, that haven’t been taken into account, and given the present parlous financial position of the council, how can we afford it?
      Also, how likely is it that social housing will end up being sold off to pay off mounting council debt?

      July 29, 2010 at 3:58 pm

      Fliss, have always liked your ideas about housing and community, neighbourhoods for that matter – pity we can’t get heaps more people to think this way.
      Agree, Phil. No, I wouldn’t put an older person in the concrete block units – and certainly not a one of our Dunedin friends (young and not so young) with special needs or circumstances where a comfortable respite, a home with no imposed time limits offers hope to daily existence. We (the public) share with council an increasing responsibility to provide smart housing in the interests of social justice. New Zealand has an overt disparity between the well-to-dos and the withouts. Quite frankly, I have no idea how we can reduce the extent of this unscrupulous divide in short order pronto.

      July 29, 2010 at 6:31 pm

      Social Housing now provides gardens that are raised and available for vege growing and have electric plugs for scooters/ electric cars I think. I think they are also double glazed.

      July 29, 2010 at 6:55 pm

      It would be interesting to know of other existing examples of social housing – like the Prince Albert Road houses – which are of the same standard and with those ‘ecological extras’ mentioned above. At least a start has been made.

      July 29, 2010 at 7:03 pm

      When at PSO I suggested they approach Parker Warburton Team Architecture for an opening conversation re a multi-agency collaboration for a small number of houses in Wakari. I haven’t visited the built result to see how they perform. Not sure how extensive the brief got in sustainability terms, or not. Not in the order of what Phil has in mind I wouldn’t think.

      July 29, 2010 at 8:58 pm

      “At least a start has been made”. That’s the problem, a start has NOT been made. The demand for community housing is increasing at a faster rate than the construction of new units. Which means that the new units are not replacing old units, they are merely trying to cope with part of the increased demand for accommodation. While it looks on the surface that the old units are being replaced with new, that’s not the case.

      The new units built over the past few years have included solar hot water heating systems. And that’s great. But that’s where the “future proofing” has stopped. The remainder of the design is purely to the current building code. Part of this is due to a lack of knowledge by the designers, and part of it is due to the minimal budget available. A typical 50 sqm community housing unit costs around $200,000 to build. It’s very expensive when compare to a standard house, because the same basic amenities (bathroom, laundry, kitchen etc) have to be provided as for a 3 or 4 bedroom house. City Property is also forced to pay market price for suitable land in desirable residential areas. DCC is not permitted to go “door knocking” to buy up properties for development, and so must compete with other developers and landlords when properties come up on the market. They have to pay for the existing dwellings on purchased properties, even though they are immediately demolished. So it’s a very expensive exercise and that’s why there are insufficient new units being built to cater for replacement of existing units.

      One of the major failings with the community housing blocks, in my opinion, is that each unit is being constructed as a complete self sufficient unit. That’s incredibly wasteful as a society, and not the way of the future (or indeed the present). For years now, various people (including DCC’s own Energy Manager) have pushed for communal heating within community housing complexes. That is, one common source of heating that provides continuous heating and hot water to 5, 10, or 30 units on one or adjoining sites. This is a standard energy efficient system that has been heating homes throughout Europe for 50 years. There was a call for a communal geothermal heating system to be included within the last design package, but this was rejected by the in-house designer who admitted that he simply didn’t understand it. Despite such a system being cheaper than individual solar heating systems, and despite the system being shown to be far more efficient than a solar heating system and ideally suited for the South Dunedin area with a high water table.

      I’ve heard the arguments from City Property housing manager that the tenants wouldn’t like having communal systems. That’s fine, there are 100 people on the waiting list who maybe would. Talk about the tail wagging the dog. One of the housing contractors told me once that the refusal of the housing manager to ban smoking within DCC community housing units was costing $200,000 a year in extra repairs. That’s one brand new unit that could be built. Every year. Who’s running the show here ?

      I believe that the construction of a small self sustaining (with communal heating, water recycling etc) community housing block in a Dunedin residential zone, by DCC, would serve as a “show home” to drive other homeowners and developers to immediately see the financial and environmental advantages, and thus inspire them to follow suit. DCC should be leading the way here, showing the way that the city should be heading for the next century, and not just getting away with what is required to satisfy consents and budgets.

      July 29, 2010 at 9:17 pm

      Phil. How much would a housing unit cost with your ideal eco design? Is it near the $200,000 you mention for a present style new housing unit? From what you know, how many new units would need to be constructed to cover the demand for community housing?

      July 29, 2010 at 9:28 pm

      Social housing has recently been reviewed by Council as you will know – and probably is best not linked to SH88 – many issues were canvassed in the process – although I wasn’t on the working party myself.

      I totally support Council having a role in Social Housing, but not necessarily being the only provider. At present I think DCC has more social housing per population than any other Council. Central Government has a role as do agencies. DCC has chosen a specific market to fill the needs for. So the costings as requested should be for that group – which I think is generally single or couples, not families and there are age specific priorities. Will try and post a link – maybe Elizabeth we could have a different page?

      July 29, 2010 at 9:33 pm


      hopefully this works

      {this is the correct link from the DCC website -Eds}

      Social Housing Strategy (PDF, 1.6 mb, new window)
      The Social Housing Strategy provides a platform for the consideration of social housing issues right across Dunedin. Social housing is defined as the provision of accommodation assistance for individuals and families whose housing needs or circumstances are not adequately provided for by the private sector. The Strategy also directly addresses issues regarding the Dunedin City Council’s own social housing stock.

      July 29, 2010 at 9:34 pm

      The difficulty of the threads is appreciated when we go off on important or interesting tangents. I will start a new page now.

      Dunedin social housing « What if? Stadium of Dunedin…
      July 29, 2010 at 9:46 pm

      […] here, and What if will link in the previous conversations by copy to this thread asap tonight. 2010/07/29 at 9:33 pm kate […]

      July 29, 2010 at 9:55 pm

      Peter, from discussions I had with the former housing manager, a minimum of 20 new units would need to be constructed each year, purely to accommodate those people who currently have been assessed, approved, and are sitting on the housing waiting list. There are about 900 existing community housing units on City Property books. So, if we were to build say, 30 new units every year (instead of the current 5 to 7) it would take 90 years to replace the current housing stock.

      As you can see, this problem is too big for City Property to manage alone on its limited budget. This is an issue that requires DCC as a whole to address.

      I’m drawing at figures from memory here, but I believe that CP collects something like $3 million a year from community housing rentals. $1 million is immediately given to DCC in the form of rates and water. There is no rates or water relief offered to social housing as are enjoyed today by Cadburys etc. Industry gets benefits, but our parents and grandparents don’t. So that’s gone. CP housing staff wages are also recovered directly from the rentals, rather than from the DCC general wages bill. At the end of it all, there was less than $1 million a year to be fed back into the operations, maintenance, and upgrading of the existing housing stock. And don’t forget that $200,000 of that $1 million is lost in repairing damage purely from smoking tenants. Leaving about 800 bucks to be spent on each house.

      I haven’t done number crunching capital cost comparisons between the current and “best practice” options. I’ll have a go at that though. But I know that the Energy Manager has. Which is why he was pushing so hard for an improvement in the design. As a guide, a typical radiator heating system costs about $1,000 per radiator, by the time you add in for the heating source, pipes etc. So a small, well insulated, 2 bedroom dwelling would cost no more than $4,000, with 6 or 7 units sharing the same heating source equipment. That is already cheaper than the existing solar heating systems, which require an electrical heating system to be used for 6 months of the year, and provides hot tap water only with no heating. Heating in the current newly constructed units still relies on electricity.

      But, keep in mind that this exercise should not only be about pure construction cost, as it is at present. It’s also about how we best make use of our resources as a society. And DCC are in the best position to lead the way forward. If we really wanted a “Wow Factor” (he must REALLY regret saying that), having a sustainable city would have been the smart way forward.

      July 29, 2010 at 9:59 pm

      Please take up social housing topic on new thread provided, cheers ALL. Great discussion!

      Calvin Oaten
      July 29, 2010 at 10:00 pm

      50 sq m social house to build $200,000. Land cost $80,000 (Iwish). Total $280,000 plus rates and insurance $2,500. New total $282,500. Depreciation at 1% (100 years) on building is $2,800. New total $285,300. A 5% return equals a rental of $274.32 pw. A 7% return $384.05 pw.
      Get real, who are we going to rent them to? Beneficiaries? Pensioners? Not without enormous ratepayer subsidies, and who is this being fair to?
      More thought required Phil and Fliss, I think.

  2. JimmyJones

    Fliss, you say that “City Property developments are not rates funded but are paid for by endowment money”. This must have been true to some extent for a while, but now-days how much of the new developments are covered by non-borrowed money? I hope all of it, but I would be interested to find out. If there is a never-ending money supply, can we not use it to pay for the future operating losses of their new rugby stadium?

    Most of you are wrongly deciding that the demand for DCC housing is based on need. There will always be demand for cheap/subsidised rental housing and cheap/subsidised anything, not because of need, but because of greed. I see the DCC’s social housing as being totally redundant because central government takes care of this through benefits, allowances and state houses. We should sell them all to the government to help pay for the $1 billion water renewals.

    • Elizabeth

      I believe the Mayor did try to sell the social housing to the government to fund the stadium. That didn’t work. Are the units in a fit state to sell. Hmmm. However, I regularly come into contact with people who should NEVER fall victim to the regime of Dunedin’s market-driven landlords – they would not cope with the reality or the pressure or the uncertainty; or the price if dependent on welfare assistance.

  3. Phil

    Calvin, this is where you miss the point. You’ve looked at the housing situation and tried to have it make a profit. In the same way that commercial property should. As it does not, you’ve simply dismissed it. Thankfully, there are still some people in positions of responsibility who have not. Social responsibility, which is a core council activity, is not about turning a profit. If it were, then none of us could ever afford to rent a library book, or take our kids to the park. Some things we all pay for, in order that we, as a community, have a better quality of life. User pays is not a blanket that can be thrown across every situation. Could you afford to pay full price for heart surgery if you needed it ? No. Some things you, and I, expect everyone to contribute towards. For the good of society. I say that social housing is one of those things.

    Jimmy, there are criteria that City Property sets which applicants must meet in order to move onto the housing waiting list. Those criteria ensure that those seeking housing out of greed do not make the list. In short, if you are not a pensioner, or part of a healthcare programme, you would not make the list for a DCC community house. And I would not consider people in those situations to be greedy, would you ? Not quite sure how you’ve come up with that assumption.

    Note: not all City Property development comes from endowment funding. Wall Street did. Other commercial projects come from the profits returned from other commercial properties. Profits which would have otherwise been delivered back to DCC.

  4. Calvin Oaten

    Phil; you misconstrue my numbers. There is no profit. The two rentals are based on the funding being available at either 5% or 7%. Even that is problematical in the current interest regime. Make no mistake it is debt funding which would be required. As Fliss should know, the Wall St Mall has soaked up all and then some of endowment funds.The city has no loose money. So I repeat, should the ratepayers be asked to subsidise this type of exercise?

  5. Peter

    Phil, You say, ‘I believe that the construction of a small self sustaining (with communal heating, water recycling etc) community housing block in a Dunedin residential zone, by DCC, would serve as a “show home” to drive other homeowners and developers to immediately see the financial and environmental advantages, and thus inspire them to follow suit. DCC should be leading the way here, showing the way that the city should be heading for the next century, and not just getting away with what is required to satisfy consents and budgets.’
    I have got no problem with the whole concept-it sounds great – but it might be more practical, first, for a group of private investors to get together and showcase the concept. They can iron out any difficulties and we can see if it is a real goer in terms of consumer popularity. Given the current state of DCC finances I can’t see any alternative.

  6. JimmyJones

    Phil, my main point was that there is no need for the DCC to duplicate the central government’s efforts, and in effect shift the burden from central government to the DCC. Should the DCC provide an unemployment benefit as well??
    Elizabeth says we need it because the government assistance isn’t generous enough. In my experience the total assistance is more than enough for everyone – except a few that can’t control their spending on drugs and alcohol.
    I used the word “greed” above, but I meant it in a generic, non-judgemental way. I don’t blame kids for enjoying a lolly-scramble or a DCC tenant for wanting to have more discretionary spending.
    The eligibility criteria for DCC Housing has been relaxed over the years, and many of us would qualify. So, Phil when you say “pensioner” what you mean is someone 54 years and older. I would prefer not being called a pensioner, for a few years at least. Other criteria are: minimum income and assets- $31,824/yr and $117,500 (Strategy p20). I think this must be close to Dunedin’s average individual income.
    Co-dependant might describe the DCC – tenant relationship; with the DCC desperate to be seen helping “the poor”. Poor people do exist, but central government can help them more effectively and more efficiently than the DCC.

    • Elizabeth

      JimmyJones – some of what you write is utterly distasteful and lacks balance. That is my personal opinion. Because I’m infrequently compassionate, I have resisted any urge to delete you/your comment like you never happened. But but maybe that’s what you would do to the people who require accommodation, health, community and or income support. Life is not all neurosurgery difficulties (at least you show compassion on that subject). Sigh, it’s the subtlety I miss in your writing.

      {The two site authors Paul and Elizabeth are allowed to be pots calling the kettle black? -Eds}

  7. JimmyJones

    Elizabeth, I’ll take the comment about my lack of subtlety as a compliment. Compassion – well I haven’t said do away with compassion, just avoid duplicating it.
    I hope I have helped to balance the thread, it seemed too socially responsible for me.

    FaceBook page Keep Neurosurgery in Dunedin reached 5000 supporters yesterday. Lets hope for some compassion from the Minister of Health; or at least a sense of political reality.

  8. Phil

    I believe that ratepayers should fund core business activities. And social housing is a core activity, in my opinion. Stadiums are not a core activity, and thus should not be ratepayer funded. The stadium was a mistake. I agree. But it’s being built now and there’s nothing anyone can, and will, do to stop it. The cost to walk away from the project today will be greater than the cost to complete it. That would be just plain dumb. That horse has bolted. I’m being careful here not to have one activity confused with another.

    There are 4 “priority” levels for acceptance onto the CP housing waiting list. I am under 55, fit, and gainfully employed. I qualify for one of those acceptance levels. However, as I do not meet the highest priority level, I will have almost zero chance of ever being allocated a property. One needs to have reached a certain age, and be eligible for a significant level of WINZ support to have a realistic chance of ever living in a Council flat. Having met a large number of those who have met the criteria for greatest need, I have real difficulty viewing those people as being greedy. The 20+ people who are added to the waiting list every year are those who meet the criteria for most urgent need of housing and, as someone mentioned earlier, would struggle to cope with the commercial rental housing market which does not cater for these people.

    There are a small number of units hidden up in the hill suburbs which are no longer suitable for older people. At the time they were built around shopping centres and bus routes which have since relocated. Some of these are offered up as market rental properties on short term leases to ensure occupation. Most often to mental health and rehabilitation organisations who have members in need but do not have the resources to build their own facilities. Let’s not confuse this type of occupation with the vast majority of units.

  9. kate

    I am certain that many aspects of Council are core business – roads, water, sewage etc. There are other situations that might not be core services throughout the Country but are in our city [given] the nature of our communities and population. I think (without enlarging our scope to Stadia) that our job as Councillors is to ensure that the City is liveable – at the basic levels – access to space, parks, housing etc can be included there over and above those generally seen as core. Some communities need more green spaces than others – so parks are needed more say in South Dunedin than here in the Strath Taieri where there is plenty of access to space. Interest groups that reflect the community can influence the liveability criteria – look at the wonderful work of the mountain bikers and hockey groups who supply a large amount of their own funding and partner the Council to provide aspects that make the City liveable. There are grey lines here I know – the real issue we have is that we have looked at 100% underwriting with one sport – and a less participatory one, getting preference.

    Housing for people who will miss out on suitable accommodation otherwise logically also fit into this scenario where Government do not provide enough and the market is imperfect.

    The test is not perfect but making the city basically liveable for significant sectors of the community rather than indulgence I think is a useful analysis.

    • Elizabeth

      I like it, Kate – well said.
      Liveability is a useful take on things because to me it’s dynamic, positive, a series of processes and struggles – and BINGO, it indeed requires partnership and participation to achieve, the very ‘core’ of community endeavour.

      Put the stadium on a liveability index and see what’s emitted out the other side: a frightful pox upon our place. (cf colonial, exploitative practice)

  10. JimmyJones

    Phil, social housing is a core activity of Central Government and I have seen no need for the DCC to duplicate it. One is enough.

    DCC Housing eligibility: a big proportion of the population should be eligible because the requirements are loose, much looser than Housing New Zealand. For an individual to be a top priority applicant for a subsidised unit, he-she only needs to be 55 years and over, earn less than $31,824 each year ($15/hr) and have assets worth less than $117,500. There is no need to be a beneficiary. This is described in the DCC Social Housing Strategy page 20 (link at top of this page).

    I need to say that I don’t think those in most need are “greedy”. You can see, however, why someone earning $15/hr would choose a DCC unit for $140/week instead of a private unit for $200/week. This choice should not be counted as being due to “need”. My point is that the size of a waiting list doesn’t say much about need, just as not all kids in a lolly-scramble are dying of starvation.

    Some people need housing assistance, but they can get this from government benefits, the accommodation allowance and state housing (HNZ). What is the need for the DCC to duplicate this? As I said before, central government assistance is more than enough for everyone with normal spending habits.

    • Elizabeth

      JimmyJones – you might be assuming that central government gives a rat’s arse about the low population SOUTH. If it is not a tourist destination or producer of milk powder.

      It doesn’t.

      Not with respect to state housing SOUTH.
      Not with benefit assistance SOUTH – and anyway, accommodation allowances nationwide are NOT geared to meet market rentals.

      That is POLICY in the bleeding raw.


      On a personal note – and believe me I am robust – I received a letter from my [euphemism: market savvy] landlord today informing of a $10 rent rise, with no improvements on offer AGAIN.

      No regulation, just when landlords feel like it or when their bank, lender, letting agent/ property manager, accountant or valuer tells them to act. Or when the landlords (all good friends in a small town?) indeed conspire to coordinate their rental increases.

      Market driven landlords (like elsewhere but it’s quite upfront here, the delights of the small town incarnate) can keep ripping Dunedin people off for as long as it takes.

      NEVER forget a good percentage of landlords/ property investors finance themselves by the superwizardry of taking STUDENT LOANS DIRECT from central government…. [who is subsidising who here] ….whether by increment or whatever to keep their bloody Mercedes Benz and BMW on the roads. Someone I know has both. And the last one had a Mercedes Benz. And both MBs were white.

      It is ENTIRELY REMARKABLE that they don’t have white used-car salesman’s shoes. The only blessing to stop a war breaking out per leverage session.

      Queen Street farming all over again.

      My earlier post that said there are people in our community that should NEVER be exposed to market rents STANDS.

      I’m not including myself in that – but who the hell lately has received a pay increase, or still has a job…

      Here’s a slant.
      Dunedin has 800 unemployed teenagers with no hope in hell of higher training or first job placements – that’s right now, right now that’s the stat.

      How do they fund own accommodation if ‘home’ is unsafe or not available…. For an increasing percentage this applies.

      The help agencies can only go so far on their limited resources. The social service foodbanks keep getting maxed out.

      No central government is going to bail our people out. Central government is faceless and removed. Central government has to prioritise assistance to dealing with the enormous social problems NORTH.

  11. Peter

    I can’t see the logic of throwing more ratepayer money at a ‘mistake’, as you rightly call the stadium. Do you think the stadium proponents really believed the Guaranteed Maximum Price? Not taking into account the exclusions, predictable cost blowouts and ongoing operational costs? Are they, or we, surprised this has happened? It was all predicted by the stadium’s opponents and denied by the promoters. The people were conned. We would be absolute suckers to pick up their pieces. I am not saying don’t finish the stadium. They finish it. It is not the ratepayers’ problem any longer.
    You may as well forget your eco neighbourhood / ‘super duper’ social housing ideas, as admirable as they are, with continued spending on failing projects like the stadium. There is extra no money. We are $600m plus in debt. Richard was right when he said ‘no one wants to stop spending on their pet project’ – or words to that effect. (Of course he forgot to mention his pet project – the stadium.) Kate was also right when she said a councillor has to be able to say ‘no’. Except she seems to be now prepared to fund the cost blowouts etc of the stadium and not say ‘no’ to this ongoing financial black hole.
    Any councillor, or candidate, who promises the world, where continued funding of financial black hole projects and not cutting core services are somehow compatible is at best naive, at worst, misleading.

  12. kate

    Peter I have not said I am for or against spending more on the stadium – or maybe I didnt mean to say it – I will not consider an application for more funding without other partners fronting up some of the cost first – but generally the answer is NO but as you and I know it is not that simple – and the proponents of the Stadium will make it really hard!

    Peter I think we want Councillors who are positive and optimistic rather than cynical and defeated – but realistically we are facing one of the hardest terms that any one could expect on Council – and the past 3 years have been tough enough – but if we focus on what could happen and innovate as to how – despite the Stadium and other decisions – it has to be a better mindset than the one you seem to promote.

    There will be things we have to do – regardless – and we need to find ways for that to happen – and the less experienced and constrained [we are] sometimes those options appear – hence us looking for new young blood as well as tempering with older thinking – we need the ideas – not the same old same old – otherwise we will just keep deferring depreciation.

  13. kate

    Elizabeth, I know when I first got onto Council I used a comparison of myself and my great great grandfather James Macandrew – would he roll in his grave hearing me tempering progress (Colonial practice) with financial restraint, he ended up for a time in a debtors prison, but again became Superintendent. I hope for neither, but the times have changed, and we are no longer selling hinterland or in need for large investments like railways. James was I think the right man in his time, but not now. He achieved so much with schools, University, and Hospitals and regional developments. We are now 150 years older and the model changed long ago – just not some Councillors! James created a wonderful environment – it is my job to ensure his legacy is a liveable city and region.

    PS I do not share Mr Harlands views on collaboration and a greater Council – we just aren’t in the right mindset to be trusted by the rural regions to lead.

    • Elizabeth

      Mr Macandrew was a rather amazing individual from all accounts. Hello his descendent!

      A confession: I want committed rural people to lead the urban people.

      That could be twisted a lot so I won’t explain myself further. Some days it’s ok to think strange thoughts.

  14. kate

    Elizabeth, in a perfect world, as suggested in March last year, those 800 would be working near Anzac Ave. Why aren’t they, and how many have been?

  15. Calvin Oaten

    Phil, correct me if I am wrong. But you sound very much like you may be electioneering.
    Elizabeth, yours and Phil’s views on council housing and the rate payers obligations smacks of utopia.
    Kate, you seem on the same wave length. I think Jimmy has it about right. It is central government’s function to provide the housing for the unfortunate. As much as the city wants to do it, that’s how much the government will let them.
    I just implore you all, do the numbers, please. Follow your path and we will all be looking for government housing. At least government doesn’t pay rates.

    • Elizabeth

      As a rural person, as an urbanist, as someone into community, family, safe places and shared responsibility, I say WE SOUTH are responsible for giving the best help we can to those of our community in need. The government is not a slush fund. Is not the backstop.

      We are each responsible for improving the lot of our fellows. My extended family and antecedents have always been out and out capitalists who put many hours and dollars/pounds back voluntarily into their community and (for free) local body work. It was expected that the success would be shared and they believed in helping people “up”. If that is my utopia then I grab it with both hands and make no apologies for thinking that is the essence of community and aspirational grinding hard work. No politics will change these beliefs.

      Boiling that utopia down: It’s a good thing DCC has social housing, social housing policy and creative thinking going on where it can no doubt utilise the expertise of the local building industry together with local and overseas advances in construction, services and planning, to ‘model’ ways forward for the aging population. The Your City Our Future package provides some useful stats and projections for our population demographics, and what they mean for Dunedin’s future housing requirement. It’s not rocket science.

      We can’t easily bump along thinking we’ve got it covered. We haven’t. So while today at What if? there’s pretty much an emphasis on current social housing issues – we should be thinking some way out; it does come back to Kate’s point about liveability. Phil has covered a lot of ground, responsibly, I believe – and he’s well placed to know the building industry here and overseas from his professional standpoints. The reality check and opportunities he offers are just that. Soak it up.

  16. Peter

    I am certainly not defeated. Maybe cynical to you. I’d call it just having your eyes wide open.
    So, now your position is: ‘I will not consider an application for more funding without other partners fronting up some of the cost first.’ It will be interesting to see how firm you would be with the ‘some’ of the cost. Already you seem to be throwing them a line – just ‘some’ will do.
    I agree the past three years must have been tough on you and your closest colleagues and the next three will be even tougher, as you say. I know it is not easy to get a full grip on everything that comes across the council table. I know it must be difficult to be criticised when you feel you are doing your best. May I suggest with the stadium things will be even tougher if you fall for the trap of picking up the pieces for the fools who have committed us to this foolishness.

  17. Peter

    Has the working party found that $20m to defray the DCC ratepayer contribution of $91.4m? This was one of the conditions for the project to go ahead. This initiative seems to have vanished into the ether.

  18. JimmyJones

    Elizabeth, your utopia has similarities to mine. Mine has successful businesses and jobs for all. Prosperity facilitating the generosity of individuals to the extent that there would be no need for the unemployment benefit nor DCC housing. Perhaps that is how it used to be (pre-war?).

    I don’t know if central government cares about the South, but it’s the same system as for the North and it works fine for 99·9% of the population. In fact, I believe that state housing would mostly be more generous than DCC housing. For the remaining 0·1%, the cost of accommodation isn’t the cause of the problem. Anyway even the less generous government option of benefit + accommodation allowance works fine with a small surplus usually.

    And who is it that “should NEVER be exposed to market rents”? Kate also had a vague description of similar persons. If they really exist then I expect there are ways to help them which don’t involve the DCC.

    By setting the eligible income for a DCC house to include individuals up to $31,824 per year ($15/hr), the DCC is not targeting just the needy, but also a big chunk of the employed people who don’t need any help. What’s the point of that? Tell my why the DCC needs to duplicate Central Government’s housing assistance system. There needs to be a good reason.

  19. Richard

    Says Peter: “Richard was right when he said ‘no one wants to stop spending on their pet project’ – or words to that effect. (Of course he forgot to mention his pet project – the stadium.)”

    Says Richard: “Peter, get it right. While I eventually supported the (FB) Stadium project for reasons that are well documented, it has never been ‘a pet project’ of mine.

    In fact, I do not really have “pet projects”. I can even manage to dispassionately separate my commitment to The Regent from my commitment as a councillor. But then, you would know nothing about that , or indeed, The Regent.

    • Elizabeth

      From the editor:

      “Says Richard: “Peter, get it right. While I eventually supported the (FB) Stadium project for reasons that are well documented, it has never been ‘a pet project’ of mine.”

      Richard has commented here and elsewhere historically on his position with respect to the evolution of the stadium project. His comments today and previously are consistent. This has already been covered by What if? on two former occasions, during which we dredged up all references to support the ‘consistency’.

      • Elizabeth

        ### ODT Online Fri, 20 Apr 2012
        Council report presents social housing stock options
        By Debbie Porteous
        Gifting the Dunedin City Council’s $65 million social housing stock to a single trust that would own and manage all social housing in Dunedin could be the best way to deal with a growing need for such housing, property advisers have suggested to councillors. A social housing needs assessment for Dunedin, commissioned by the council as part of its social housing strategy, says up to 1000 extra housing units will be needed in Dunedin by 2031, as the population ages and is less able to afford to buy privately or pay market rental rates. The January 2012 report from property advisers The Property Group Ltd (PGL) says the expected growth in social housing need is significant, given there are only 2736 social housing units in the city.
        Read more

        Report – CDC – 23/04/2012 (PDF, 2.6 MB)
        Social Housing in Dunedin to 2031 – Projected Demand and Scenarios for Future

  20. Peter

    ‘Eventually’ supported the stadium?? You were there for it from the beginning. Are you now wanting to distance yourself from your ‘dispassionate’ support for the stadium?

  21. Peter

    News to me. His position on the stadium – ie build it and they will come – has got a bit of water under the bridge by now.

  22. kate

    Don’t read anything into it, but I do love the Peanuts cartoon today!

  23. kate

    NO, I didnt!

  24. ### ODT Online Wed, 27 Mar 2013
    Tenant claims eviction threat
    By Shawn McAvinue
    A Dunedin grandmother says a Dunedin City Council property manager ”threatened” her with eviction and having her granddaughters put in foster care if the children were still living in her council flat today. Ellen Pensom (63) said she was told by Graeme Dixon, the property manager of her council flat in Shetland St, her two granddaughters had to move out or she would be evicted.
    Read more

    • Spooks not containing ‘news’ very well in relation to DCC’s Mr Dixon.

      ### ODT Online Thu, 28 Mar 2013
      Claim eviction for feeding ducks
      By Shawn McAvinue
      A 67-year-old Dunedin woman says she is to be evicted from her council flat for feeding ducks. Robyn Swale said she was sent an eviction notice from the Dunedin City Council telling her she had until noon on June 18 to return the keys to her Taieri Rd flat to the council. She was being evicted for feeding ducks, she said. Council housing officer Graeme Dixon had twice caught her feeding ducks outside the flat, she said. Ms Swale, who had lived in the flat for 12 years, said she wanted to continue living there.
      Read more

      • I remembered the name Rixon, made a search. See Hype O’Thermia’s comment here.

        ### ODT Online Thu, 4 Apr 2013
        Condition added to eviction order
        By Shawn McAvinue
        A Dunedin woman’s eviction notice for feeding ducks outside her council flat ”still stands” but the Dunedin City Council has added a new condition. Robyn Swale (67) said the letter she received from the council on Monday said because she had told the Otago Daily Times she would stop feeding the ducks at the Taieri Rd flats, the ”90-day notice letter” would remain in place but a new condition would be included.

        ”If you have ceased feeding the ducks, we will review the position closer to the expiry of the 90-day notice”, the letter said.

        Ms Swale said she would stay in her flat until the notice period ended at noon on June 18 and then would wait for the council to contact her.
        Read more

  25. Peter

    Funny how the ODT publishes a story where it is one person’s word against another yet they don’t publish stories where facts are backed up by documentation and, if published, would seriously lift the lid on controversial civic matters.
    This story must have been on a day where it was hard to find news. The ODT’s falling circulation would be pumped up by not burying the real news.

  26. Calvin Oaten

    Hey! Hey! Hey! Where do they get these people?. Mr Dixon must be on work release from some sort of mental institution. I can’t imagine why. Or is it just that he sat on his rubber ducky in his bath as a boy, and had an inappropriate experience? There could be any number of reasons for his peculiarities, but one thing is certain, and that he is not a fit person to be doing the job he is. That raises the next obvious question. What in hell does his superior do to allow this sort of thing to go on? Or is it that he is the superior? Nothing would surprise me in that place.

  27. JimmyJones

    You have to laugh – the ODT says: “Council communications manager Graham McKerracher said the letter was not an eviction notice but a ”90 days to vacate the property” notice. If Ms Swale had not moved out of the flat after 90 days, she would not be physically evicted – the case would be referred to the Tenancy Tribunal.”

    It should be obvious that a ”90 days to vacate the property” notice is an eviction notice, and if she stays she will be physically ejected following the Tenancy Tribunal judgement and a small payment to the bailiffs. Graham McKerracher should have known that this primitive attempt at spin-doctoring will be easily un-spun by most readers. Sometimes it is better to say nothing. Even better: the DCC could learn to tell the truth.

  28. hypeothermia

    Jan88: “…Why is it so hard to get rid of real nuisance tenants? The noisy, dirty, truly nasty type?…” http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/251095/claim-eviction-feeding-ducks#comment-41168
    That’s why it’s so much better to impress as a strong capable Council housing officer by picking on the kind of decent gentle law-abiding people who WILL move out because they respect authority. Unfortunately authority is at times given to those who get carried away with their power.

    It’s so much easier to bully people who don’t fight back, than take on the really hard nuts. Dog control used to be noteworthy for that.

    Result, the employer can be presented with a report on numbers of cases handled and resolved that looks most impressive. What it doesn’t show is how many of the hard jobs got the “turn and look in the other direction” treatment. Employee gets salary increase, may even be able to “prove” that there’s such a high work-load that extra staff are needed. And so another empire is born.

  29. Anonymous

    This is bureaucratic madness. The council officer appears to have lost the plot, with the story suggesting he has been spying on the property to catch this duck feeder in the act. The Spook Master appears to have had a brain fart based on his response too.

    There have been between three and four ducks regularly resting on the lawns near the flats for years – I’ve assumed they are breeding pairs stopping at familiar locations. You see pairs of ducks, and occasionally ducklings, around the lawns and fields on Frasers Rd. I’ve fed the ducks and appreciated the rare occasion to see those ducklings.

    I suspect that based on the positions of council henchmen Graeme Dixon and Graham McKerracher they would like to see this type of social interaction wiped out. Apparently their “our town”, “our stadium” campaign (inserts finger down throat) does not mean our wildlife.

    I blame the New Our Stadium Mayor for allowing this corruption of office to grow on his watch.

  30. Anonymous

    I assume this whole madness is occurring because they need reasons to get rid of tenants so they can either substantially increase the rent, sell off the units at their higher value (location must be significant) or, quite possibly, hock them off at an “economic downturn” rate one of the usual councillors can buy them cheap and flick them on for a tidy profit. Either that or some council project manager’s got an entry in their to do list they just can’t ignore.

    • There is nothing worse when you have little, than to have your roof threatened with removal, your only security.

      I’ve had just one 90-day notice in all my market-rent years in Auckland and Dunedin (1981-2013) – not for council flats. Our scum landlord (his lawyer was Michael Guest) was sent to prison for three and half years after extended CIB monitor (oops, that’s what happens when you hold up the Campus Pharmacy at gunpoint and get into nefarious deeds). We were long-term sitting tenants when the apartments were sold to meet landlord debt. The new owner didn’t fancy tenants who would aid NZ Police – naturally, they wanted to move a family member in (yeah right), thus the notice. I checked that out later, nope.

      Anyway, City Property can’t do that, it can only blame ducks and grandchildren as threats to tenant security. May DCC’s Graeme Dixon and Graham McKerracher rot in hell. This week ODT has done the community a favour pointing up this dreadful DCC behaviour.

  31. hypeothermia

    McPravda’s Comments show normal Dunedin people’s attitude to this bully-boy nonsense. So far not one person can see any merit whatsoever in the actions of the DCC’s zealous hero-in-his-own-headspace.

  32. hypeothermia

    If anyone were composing a limerick they’d be looking for rhymes like banker and hanker, flosser (not easy to work dental hygiene into it but may be necessary) and crosser, as in double-.

  33. Calvin Oaten

    Elizabeth; take your own time, to summon a rhyme, but if it was fixin’ that arsehole named Dixon, you couldn’t help mixin’ the facts with the fiction, of this little hitler who pushes his luck, at helpless old folk who befriend a duck. Then there is Granny, who acts as a Nanny, to two little mites, attracts the attention of this miserable shite. How to describe him, I’m fresh out of word, but what is there better to rhyme with than ‘turd’. I am now all finished the rake with the muck, so what rhymes better, than another, like duck.

  34. hypeothermia

    Stunner, Calvin!

  35. Anonymous

    Acting CEO Dr Sue Bidrose said…

    I hurt.

    ### ODT Sat, 30 Mar 2013
    Tenant given ‘another chance’
    By Shawn McAvinue
    Not available online at this time.

    {31.3.13 http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/251277/tenant-given-another-chance -Eds}

  36. Anonymous

    Thank you Eds. A little curious that story took 24 hours to appear and then stamped Sunday. As expected, it is rising up the Most Popular rank fairly quickly. The heir apparent hasn’t got the paywall in place yet so not sure what the delay was.

    I was at a park in another borough today, with a retirement village which backs directly on to it. There were around 30 ducks on the adjacent lawns and in the park’s pond. Based on the above storyline, which should have been something from an Orwellian tale, I noted several residents walked among the ducks without the sort of expression one might expect from a non-duck feeder. I also noted no signs reminding those residents feeding ducks could result in eviction or being “physically removed” from their homes. Nor did I spot any council employees hiding in the bushes.

    Maybe their council is not as mental as our council? But as a precaution I won’t mention the town or park involved for their security.

  37. Anonymous

    The Otago Daily Times newspaper is forced to try hard to distinguish its April 1st news story from the Dunedin City Council, Stadium, ORFU and other related professional rugby articles that often defy belief.

    If they had run the duck feeding story today would anyone have believed otherwise?

    ### ODT Mon, 1 Apr 2013
    Pilot programme targets stadium councillors
    By Nigel Benson

    A story we are unlikely to see, regardless of date:
    Council releases all information on[…]

    (Apologies for any typos that may have crept in above – it is April 1st after all!)

  38. Hype O'Thermia

    This seems like a situation where a citizens’ protest action could, should occur – strangers from various parts of the city going to that place to feed the ducks outside the victim’s fenceline with view to Youtube.

  39. Anonymous

    It seems the Creepy Christchurch Council has been bugging its citizens for five years. Given the corruption of Dunedin City Council, and interests of certain individuals, it is frightening to think what the citizens of this city have been subjected to. Managers hiding in bushes watching duck feeders might have just been the start.


    Not a day has passed in the media lately which hasn’t felt like April 1st.

    • Elizabeth

      Did see that wee notice about the paywall.
      Circulation/subscriptions will DROP FURTHER

      I will be reading NZ Herald for my national [investigative] news…. Hi Murr…….

      • Anonymous

        Somewhat surprising. They had considered it previously but someone sensible must have realised then the paper didn’t have a national presence to support it. Probably some new manager or website company who wrote the concept down as an old style memorandum and managed to get it in front of Sir. I was briefly excited (*) to read the paper was reviewing its position on investigative journalism but then saw who the role was assigned to and put it back down again.

        * I think Allied Press could be trend-setting here in its paywall announcement and its use of “exciting” could become one of those opposite meanings. For example, when something at first appears interesting but then isn’t. At least until April 1st.

  40. Hype O'Thermia

    Anonymous – “…briefly excited (*) to read the paper was reviewing its position on investigative journalism but then saw who the role was assigned to…”.

    You mean their reliable dhobi-wallah who washes away the smell of something rotten, the stains of corruption, and the brown and yellow streaks?

  41. Anonymous

    Saw a mother duck and her ducklings on Mellor St today, the same area infamous for the above council weirdness. It was very cute and people should take care driving through this area. But just as important, everyone should take care to avoid strange men hiding in bushes watching elderly women in the neighbouring flats. If you see one of these people, please report the sighting to the Police immediately. Footage of council staff monitoring constituents should also be made public for the safety of the community. This council is going bad and with the Little Emperor returned to power, next time they might not stop at an eviction.

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