Habitat for Humanity Nelson continues to offer decent affordable homes

Decent homes for qualifying families
Turnover of keys turned to celebration amongst qualifying families.

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organisation helping families attain a decent home of their own, motivated by the belief that affordable housing plays a critical role in strong and stable communities.

As part of the organisation’s affiliated network, Habitat for Humanity Nelson is strongly committed to Habitat’s flagship rent-to-buy Progressive Home Ownership (PHO) programme that is helping families who would otherwise be locked out of the private housing market. Under the scheme, Habitat builds new homes that qualifying families then rent at affordable rates.

Households entering the affordable rental programme have secure tenure for at least five years until refinancing and taking ownership of their own homes. As part of the journey, participating households invest ‘sweat equity’ (275 hours) into their homes before moving in, such as doing interior painting, with training provided along the way.

Habitat Nelson has recently completed 12 townhouses in Stoke – six three-bed and six two-bed units – to provide decent and affordable housing for low to moderate-income families through the PHO programme. Keys were handed over to 12 local families in mid-June.

“As well as meeting the need for quality, affordable housing, what we are trying to achieve here is community-centric living.”

Two one-bedroom social rentals are also part of the development. The site honours Habitat’s founder Julian Shields with a private lane – Shields Way – named to remember his lasting impact. “It was very much a goal with this project that we were going to build much better quality homes and meet much higher standards so we could create warm, dry, healthy homes,” says Jo Reilly, Habitat Nelson’s Head of Property and Projects.

“Using a SIPs (structural insulated panels) construction system, the buildings have insulated pads, thicker walls with better insulation [R3.3 wall insulation] and thermally broken windows. We have set the windows back inside the thermal envelope – giving much better thermal protection – and also have a mechanical ventilation system and higher levels of insulation in the ceiling.”

Well-designed for family living, the layout includes an open plan kitchen/lounge area downstairs along with a laundry tucked away in a cupboard, a downstairs toilet and plenty of storage. Sunny downstairs living flows to a lovely outdoor area, and each home has its own garden space.

Upstairs are bedrooms with fitted wardrobes, sharing views to the hills and a compact family bathroom, all designed so the homes stay warm, dry and well-ventilated. All the homes share common outdoor areas with picnic tables and barbecue facilities, as well as a children’s playground, raised veggie gardens and a covered area for bike storage.

“One thing we have done to really enhance the community aspect is we put in an old fridge that has been painted and had shelves inserted to serve as a little library/book exchange.” Design Based Architecture and Tasman Homes led this first-stage design and build-in Stoke for Habitat Nelson.

“We’re now building another eight homes on a neighbouring site, seven of which will be for Progressive Home Ownership with the other being a one-bedroom social rental unit,” says Nick Clarke, Habitat Nelson’s General Manager. “The seven townhouses will be of similar design to the first stage but single-storey.”

“As well as meeting the need for quality, affordable housing, what we are trying to achieve here is community-centric living. From the outset, we ensured the shared barbecue and play area would be in the middle of the whole site so everyone would be able to access it and enjoy it.”

Eighty-eight families applied for the first stage of housing at Stoke. Strong demand is also anticipated for the second-stage homes. “Nelson Tasman has been in the top five regions for housing need for quite some time,” says Nick. “That demand for affordable housing has always been really strong, and part of the reason for that is we have limited opportunities to earn higher salaries and relatively high land values. It’s an unfortunate combination.”

Habitat Nelson is currently building another five three-bedroom townhouses on Queen St, Richmond for the PHO programme. These quality two-storey homes are in a great location, close to the central business district and local schools and with good transport links. Being built with an innovative construction system, construction is progressing rapidly with the new homes on track to be finished by March 2024.

“These are semi-detached dwellings on separate titles. They are compact and smart – the site has been used well.” Professional painters have been sharing tips with local families so they can contribute to the interior paintwork.

Nick, who has an international development background, observes that families around the world share similar goals: wanting a better life for themselves and their children, and a sense of connection. “That’s universal. To see these families working away, doing painting with friends and whānau helping, and then having lunch together and meeting neighbours is a very fulfilling part of all this.”

Habitat Nelson’s projects have attracted generous funding from the central government (Ministry of Housing and Urban Development), Nelson City Council and the Rātā Foundation, with tradespeople and building partners also going above and beyond with their support.

“We feel very privileged to be so well supported by our community here too, whether it’s people donating goods to our ReStore sites in Nelson or Motueka, supporting Nook Café or the tenants of our workspaces in Habitat Hub in Nelson, or people supporting our new building and DIY supplies shop. It all comes together to get more and more affordable housing in our community.”

© Waterford Press Ltd 2023 – Independent Print Media New Zealand

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