Corporate Member: Accessible Properties New Zealand Ltd

Name of Organisation: Accessible Properties New Zealand Ltd

Chief Executive Officer: Greg Orchard

Joined AHI: 2017

Vision of organisation:

“As an organisation, our purpose is to achieve a couple of things. The first is to provide good quality housing and other property to disability service providers so they’re able to deliver positive outcomes for their clients. The second is to directly provide good quality housing and housing services for people in need that meets their needs and provides them with opportunities to improve their lives, and positively contribute to their community.”

“So there’s two aspects to our organisation; one where we provide properties to other service providers who provide services to disability service users, and we also provide direct housing to end customers.”

 Summary of services:

“In essence, we’re focused on achieving the best outcomes for our tenants. For us, that goes way beyond the interests of a private landlord or a property investor. What we’re looking to do is provide security for people in the form of a warm, dry and secure home that enables the family to stabilise that aspect of their life and creates a platform for their future.”

“One of the things we do is to continue looking to match our properties to the needs of both our current tenants and homes for people in the future. And that includes ensuring we use our expertise to build and modify houses for an ageing population, for people with disabilities, and for changing housing needs –everything from modified and specialised secure units right through to individual homes.”

“We’ve got a strong interest in the communities in which our houses are located. We want our tenants and their families to have access to services, and opportunities to be included and participate in those communities. When we get a new tenant, we work really hard to help them feel settled in their homes, connect with their communities and have stable housing for the whole duration of their need.”

“We look to engage with the people living in our houses in a way that’s appropriate. We want to ensure they are able to access support services such as budgeting, financial assistance, employment support, mental health and disability services that they might require. Then, over time, we will work with them to ensure they have opportunities to move to housing independence where that’s possible and help them move through that housing continuum.”

Defining features of organisation:

“We care about people and their right to an ordinary life, and I suppose that’s a really key thing for us. We believe that the quality of the homes we provide should be fit-for-purpose, warm, safe, dry and secure, and in a well-functioning and inclusive community. That’s fundamental to each individual’s wellbeing and their life chances – that’s really critical.”

“We see our role as both being a deliverer of excellent service, as well as having an advocacy role where it’s required for the people that we house. For some providers, it is just about delivering the service. We really strongly see that we’ve got an advocacy role for people in housing need where that’s needed.”

“We’re the largest non-government housing provider here in New Zealand. We’ve been built on over 60 years of providing properties, and homes for people with disabilities, and that’s a core capability of our team. In 2012, we began building our core social housing portfolio and, over the five years between 2012 and 2017, we have built that portfolio to about 1,700 homes bringing our total portfolio to 2,742.”

“We are a full service provider. We want to own and invest in the communities where we’re involved, as well as deliver a full range of community housing services. So we’re less interested in just leasing or property management; we are making a long-term commitment to the communities in which we get involved.”

“Overall, we’re not only committed to increasing the homes that we’re providing but also ensuring that we’re there to meet the needs of the people that are in them, and particularly people with disability or mobility restrictions and, increasingly, the needs of an ageing population, which we’re finding are having an increasingly significant housing need.”

Achievements of organisation this year:

“The opening of our office in Tauranga was very significant for us. We successfully bid for the purchase and management of the Crown’s social housing portfolio. It’s the first large-scale transfer of state housing stock under the government social housing reform programmes. We purchased the freehold title of 1,140 homes, and have contracted to provide those and increased social housing capacity in that market for the next 25 years.”

“It’s been a really major transaction that saw the organisation grow by 40 percent. It involved establishing a new business operation including establishing a new office, recruiting a new team, putting in place new systems and processes, and training in just over three months to be ready on day one to take ownership and deliver the service. And that was all done with the team continuing to deliver high quality service to existing customers.”

Comment on the current state of housing:

“At the moment, housing is an incredibly hot area to be involved in. We’ve seen significant housing cost increases. There’s a desperate shortage of social and affordable housing in New Zealand. Waiting lists have grown, as have overcrowding and homelessness. Homelessness is reported to have risen by 25 percent in the last few years in New Zealand. We’re seeing high housing costs, high levels of homelessness, poor quality housing stock and dropping home ownership.”

“There’s a real need for a cross-party national housing strategy to address all parts of the housing continuum and, currently, we’re tending to focus on individual parts of the continuum without looking at the whole.”

Why did you become a Corporate Member of the AHI?

“We are really committed to the development of our people and, more broadly, the sector. Our membership is one way we support and demonstrate this.”

“We have established targets for staff to become Certified Housing Professionals within the organisation. We see this as a point of difference, and a way to demonstrate our commitment to our people and their ongoing personal and professional development.”