Disabled shut out of house projects
Subdivisions are shutting out homes for disabled residents
By Emma Beer, Nelson Evening Mail, New Zealand, August 29, 2012 (LINK)
The issue has been exposed after the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board sought to build a new six-bed home in Stoke or Richmond.
However, at the three preferred subdivisions, either the property developers refused to sell or had covenants on sections stopping the land being used for institutional residential purposes.
Now the DHB is taking the discrimination issue to the Human Rights Commission.
At NMDHB's monthly meeting yesterday the board decided to look for other land to build the home on but said it would write to the HRC.
The DHB's business development manager, Keith Rusholme, said it was incredibly disappointing.
"We've found that the people of Nelson are very accommodating and accept people who have disabilities.
"[However,] it seems that the developers have a different view and why that is, well, I can't speak for them, but it's really disappointing [disabled people] are not allowed to live in certain areas."
DHB's disability support services had been working with Housing NZ Corporation for the past year to relocate a small number of disabled residents to a newly built five or six-bedroom home.
Some residents live in an Atawhai Drive home, while others have been moved from Brunner St to more suitable accommodation because the two sites were losing money and not meeting client needs, said a report presented to the board on housing covenants and disabled people.
Challenges regarding consents and costs stopped an initial plan to modify the residence at Atawhai Drive and new property was sought on which to build a house.
The three subdivisions named in the report are Daelyn, Waimeha and Washbourn.
The report said the DHB had been advised by Tasman Holdings, which was engaged as its developer, that the Suttons and Wakatu Incorporation refused to sell, and that the unknown developer of Washbourn had a clause which would have placed the development at risk.
Sutton and Wakatu have covenants that state the land may not be used for anything other than a residential purpose as a single unit family home.
Advice from HNZC was that this issue of impacting on the rights of disabled people was "most significant" in Nelson, and was not experienced to the same level elsewhere in the country.
Stephen Sutton, of the Daelyn subdivision, said he did not want to comment on the issue of discrimination but that it was not quite correct they had refused to sell land.
"There is already a community home in the subdivision. We agreed with the DHB that would be the one. So we have actually not refused at all, we've let one be built."
A DHB spokeswoman this morning confirmed there was one community home in the subdivision in which people had been living for three years.
"Disability Support Services would like an opportunity to provide services in the Richmond area. However the covenants in new subdivisions prevent this."
Waimeha subdivision on Champion Rd is developed by Wakatu Incorporation and chief executive Keith Palmer said it would abide by its covenant.
The covenant said a boarding house for "normal people" or one for "handicapped people" could not be built on the subdivision, he said.
"There'd be no differentiation between the way we treated people. Similarly, if someone walks up and wants to buy a section to build a house on, we'd allow it, and if a handicapped person came up to build a house, we'd allow that. So there's no disadvantage.
"People buy sections because they want to live in a neighbourhood, not a business environment, and we honour that."
Author of the report and service manager of DSS Mark Nalder said this was only an example of the wider issue of developers' ability to choose who they will and won't sell to and disabled people's ability to live in the community.
LISA Comment: We understand those placing covenants, claim they are not specifically targeting people with a disability living in the community. But, in effect, they are! They are targeting their support - claiming support for people with a disability to live in the community makes the home a commercial enterprise.