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Sustainability options

    More than 330 Rotorua families are living in warmer, drier and healthier homes thanks to Sustainability Options’ 20 Degrees programme.

    With the support of a $250,000 grant from Rotorua Trust last year, and another $200,000 this year, Sustainability Options has been working to improve local homes, so they are capable of reaching at least 20°C on a cold winter’s night.

    Rotorua 20 Degrees – which is being funded by a number of agencies – focuses on giving families a hand up, not a hand out, ensuring they have the skills and knowledge to keep their home healthy and warm.

    In its June update, Sustainability Options reported that in its first year of operation, partly due to the increased government funding for insulation and heating, the organisation has been able to perform 559 actions in 265 homes.

    The work Sustainability Options delivers varies from repairing gutters, windows, cladding and roofs to installing insulation, heating, extraction systems and window glazing.

    Director Nik Gregg says collaborating with other agencies has been the key to meeting demand.

    “We have worked out there are approximately 29,000 homes across the Bay of Plenty in need of improvement. At a cost of $80,000 per home for the 25 per cent with the highest need, you’re looking at more than $1 billion.

    “When you think about it like that, it seems like what we’re doing is a drop in the ocean but you have to start somewhere and the more work we do, the more it will begin to snowball, with other agencies coming on board.”

    Mr Gregg says it was through Sustainability Options’ home assessments that they personally experienced the significant need in our Rotorua community.

    “It’s not enough to put in some insulation and hope for the best – we also need to provide our whānau with the knowledge, tools and confidence to maintain their homes, and we need to work with other agencies who can help to provide those bigger critical repair jobs.”

    With so much demand, it is anticipated Sustainability Options will need to bring more staff on board to keep the momentum going.

    “In the past year we have employed two local staff to help serve in the community, one being a rangatahi who is enthusiastically embracing the opportunity to help others,” Mr Gregg says.

    “There are a lot of people in our community who are living in really poor housing conditions and being able to get this scheme up and running has allowed us to start reaching and helping some of those most vulnerable”.

    “We are not about quick fixes, the focus of the programme is to journey with families in order to gain longer-term housing condition improvement, moving the house from being a shelter to once again being a home.”

    Rotorua Trust Chairman Stewart Edward says the Trust is committed to supporting this important kaupapa to reach as many families in need as possible.

    “Sustainability Options does a tremendous job in improving the conditions of housing across the whole of the Bay of Plenty.

    “The Rotorua Trust focus is on ensuring their programme enhances the standards of our Rotorua housing stock, in order to improve the health and wellbeing of our community – a key cornerstone of the Trust’s own strategic direction.”