Breaking ground at Mona

Ashburton District mayor Neil Brown (left) and Haven Housing trustees Walter van der Kley and Jackie Girvan.

Ashburton District mayor Neil Brown took up a shovel to ceremoniously turn the soil of Mona Square this week, commemorating the start of Haven Housing’s elderly housing construction project.

The project, which will provide seventeen affordable rental units for Ashburton’s elderly community, will help to counter the housing affordability crisis and supply those on pensions or limited incomes with modern healthy homes.

Haven Housing trustees Jackie Girvan and Walter van der Kley shared the excitement of the construction commencement alongside Mr Brown, claiming it had been a long time coming.

“We’ve got a waitlist,” said Mrs Girvan when asked how much interest the rental units have gauged. “We’re not worried about filling these at all.”

Local contractors involved with the project so far include Ryan Proffit Construction who is leading the build, Tarbotton Land & Civil who are donating wastewater services, and seventeen heatpumps supplied by the Lion Foundation in partnership with the Braided Rivers Charitable Trust.

Haven Housing say support from organisations and other local businesses is appreciated.

Mr Brown praised the project, stating it’s a good example of the whole community working together, and offers a local solution for local people.

The Ashburton District Council are working alongside Haven Housing, offering the land for development on a 50-year long-term lease at just $1 per year.

This low-cost lease means Haven Housing are able to put more of their funding towards constructing healthy homes and maintaining affordable rental prices.

The project is estimated to cost about $2.2 million, with Haven Housing hoping to source $1.5 million of that budget from funding. Currently they have gathered approximately $1.3 million.

Construction time for the homes is anticipated to take 12 months, though supply chain delays may disrupt this timeframe.

Mr van der Kley said some materials like gib board were currently difficult to obtain, and they were prepared to use alternatives if needed to prevent hindering construction.

Mrs Girvan said they won’t be seeking government’s help for the project as they don’t want to relinquish control over who is able to utilise the homes.

“We really want this for Ashburton people. People that have a tie here, that live here.”

The seventeen modern 50sqm one-bedroom units, though designed for the elderly, will be far from a rest home. The units will enable elderly to maintain their independence as if they were in their own home, while providing a strong sense of companionship and community.

Haven Housing have a dream of providing 100 affordable homes for Ashburton’s community, and are eager to explore further developments following the completion of the Mona Square project.

-By Indi Roberts