OPOTIKI’S Rangimarie Trust has been in existence for 36 years and is still coming up with new ways to provide low-cost housing for those who need it most.
A 1000-square metre section the trust bought in King Street in March 2014 has been the focus of two University of Auckland students, who have come up with a way of building four suitable units on the section.
Originally from China, Wendy Zheng and Juno Huang are students at the university’s school of architecture and planning. They have spent their evenings working on a new pensioner accommodation housing model for the trust.
This includes access ramps, solar heating, raised floors to prevent flooding, wider doors to accommodate wheelchair users, and a maximum budget of $90,000 per unit.
The undergraduate students were delighted when their plans were chosen from dozens of submissions to be built by the trust.
Senior lecturer Bill McKay said the students came up with plans for a small cluster of houses, each with private living spaces but an overall village feel, to accommodate single elderly people.
“It was gratifying to see young undergraduates come up with such a good design.
“Apart from nailing the requirements of the brief they also produced a design sensitive to the church next door that will add to the townscape values of Opotiki by creating a nice little community precinct,” he said.
Humble vision now 36 years old
Former trustee and operations manager Malcolm Ballard said the Rangimarie Trust was established in 1979. “Back then the rental sector was vastly different to that which exists today,” he said.
“The trust came about due to the vision of some remarkable people including Jane Jackman and her husband Jim, Jopie Hofland and Margaret Haase, who sought a means of providing affordable low-cost rental housing for people with low incomes.
“Their vision was purely philanthropic, driven by a need to provide reasonable accommodation for people of modest means through setting up a non-profit organisation, which would facilitate growth as income made it possible.”
From a humble beginning, the trust now has freehold ownership of a small housing complex in Opotiki, and is seeking to expand its operation.
“The focus is now primarily on housing for super-annuitants and the slightly disabled as they account for the majority of our tenants, and we do not wish their welfare to be compromised,” Mr Ballard said.
The trust is registered with the Charities Commission and administered by five volunteer trustees, together with the services of a paid manager, who oversees the running of the complex and the development of the trust’s activities.
Mr Ballard said the Rangimarie Trust’s housing complex at 107 Richard Street comprised 12 units, being a mix of one- and two-bedroomed dwellings.
Rents were assessed at 70 to 80 percent of market rentals, he said.
“Our intention is to expand our services and we are currently seeking to develop land bought close to the complex where we can build additional units, which we will endeavour to make as energy-efficient and sustainable as possible.”
Mr Ballard said the Rangimarie Trust was dedicated to being a landlord of excellence with a genuine interest in the welfare of its tenants.
“After 30 years’ experience in the rental accommodation sector the trust is more convinced than ever that its services are required,” he said.
With an eye to the future, donations and bequests were welcomed as a vital part of funding ongoing services.
“By making the work of the trust known to local organisations and generally raising our profile we wish to attract applications from suitable candidates,” Mr Ballard said.
Couples as well as individuals were welcome and application forms were available from the Opotiki Library.