Straight from city council A personal view, by Councillor Steve Morris
Councillors have a natural instinct to want to please their constituents. Call it a survival instinct, but some decisions will make you unpopular whatever the outcome. A recent example is the Opal Drive Emergency Housing Village in Papamoa. In this case, Housing New Zealand is leasing a council-owned block of land to put 19 of the 220 new units going up around the city to house people struggling to find home, with a focus on homeless women and children. That gives you an idea of the magnitude of the problem.
A number of neighbours were against the proposal which wasn’t helped (typically) by some poor communication at a sensitive time. It’s hard to sit in a resident’s lounge and argue that it is for the greater good when they are facing the impact on their property values. By even acknowledging these effects and trying to empathise I faced criticism from the other side of the debate who also rushed to judgement by calling the residents “heartless NIMBYs”. Yet I never heard requests from these accusers to site the village next to them. With another 201 units to go up it’s bound to occur to some of them and we’ll see whether the sanctimony still applies then!
In the end, if this councillor is faced with a no-win it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we all embrace the new residents of emergency housing throughout our city because it’s in nobody’s interest for them to feel excluded from society.