A place to call home for those hardest hit

March 9, 2021

Last year marked the 10th anniversary of the creation of IHC’s property company, Accessible Properties.

Accessible Properties’ first day of operation was 1 July 2010, and as IHC Chief Executive Ralph Jones put it at the time, it signalled “IHC’s intention to increase its participation in the social housing market and provide accommodation for people who struggle to find somewhere to live because of health or disability issues”.

Accessible Properties Chief Executive Greg Orchard says that vision is as true now as it was then. “Our goal, our belief, is to create thriving communities,” he says. “Whether that is someone supported by IDEA Services or a family that’s been through some tough times financially, we want to give people a place to belong and thrive.”

Accessible Properties hit the ground running. From day one, the company managed more than 1000 properties for IHC. These included – and still do – IHC’s day bases and residential homes and units.

“The people IDEA Services supports are extremely important to us,” says Greg. “We are very proud of our homes and facilities that keep people safe, happy and healthy.”

Accessible Properties’ growth has been spectacular. Support from the Government’s Housing Innovation Fund in its first year allowed Accessible Properties to build housing units in Hamilton.

The following year, Accessible Properties was the most successful applicant to the Social Housing Fund, allowing a $23 million programme to build 67 new housing units for social housing in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch.

Within three years Accessible Properties was managing the largest non-government housing portfolio in the country, with 870 homes. More than 4000 people with intellectual disabilities were using IHC premises.

In April 2014, Accessible Properties achieved Community Housing Provider registration, providing access to income-related rental subsidies. That meant the rent subsidies that used to be available only for Housing New Zealand properties now applied to homes provided by Accessible Properties.

Accessible Properties was the successful bidder for the purchase of the Hamilton City Council housing for older persons’ portfolio and took possession of its 344 homes in March 2016.

In December that year, Accessible Properties entered into an agreement with the Government to provide 358 of the 508 social housing homes to be made available in South and West Auckland.

By the end of the 2016 financial year, the value of the property portfolio had grown rapidly to more than $100 million.

Partnering with Lifemark Standards meant properties were adaptable for people with disabilities and situated and grouped in ways that fostered community inclusion.

But the biggest growth for Accessible Properties came in April 2017, when it formally acquired and began managing 1138 former Housing New Zealand homes.

In October, Associate Housing Minister Kris Faafoi opened the first development of six homes in Tauranga – part of Accessible Properties’ plan to help address the chronic Tauranga housing shortage.

Accessible Properties wants to replace 140 former state homes in Tauranga with more than 400 new townhouses and apartments, as part of its Pukehinahina Project.

“The need for social housing is not going away – it’s greater than ever. In Tauranga especially, there is immense pressure,” says Greg.

“We know that places stress on older people, single-income households and poorer families. We are committed to working with Government to find solutions and homes.”

To support tenants, Accessible Properties works closely with agencies, councils, New Zealand Police and iwi to ensure properties are safe and tenants well looked after.

That’s reflected in annual tenancy surveys, which show overwhelming satisfaction among tenants.

Greg says: “Ten years is a significant milestone, but we are committed and looking forward to working with IDEA Services and the IHC Group for many more years to come.”

Caption: Tenants, volunteers and Accessible Properties staff pitch in for Clean Up Week 2019. Keeping neighbourhoods safe and clean helps tenants and communities to flourish.