Low-income Auckland retirement village residents face an uncertain future

Residents of a low-income Auckland retirement village are stunned their homes could be bulldozed to expand a park.

Auckland Council has earmarked Hillsborough's Liston Village for demolition, but opponents say it's madness in the middle of a housing crisis.

It's a place which Elizabeth Osborne has called home for just over a year, and her slice of paradise could one day be reduced to rubble.

"It is just so short-sighted. It almost smacks of elder abuse," she says.

The 25-unit community was established in the 1980s for low-income retirees. It has been earmarked for demolition to establish neighbouring Monte Cecilia Park.

"This is outrageous. Why is Council destroying housing in a housing crisis in order to make more grass space?" says Julie Fairey from Roskill Community Voice.

In 2010, the former Auckland City Council began acquiring the land. At that time, existing residents at Liston Village were granted a license to occupy, despite not owning the units, that meant they could live there for the rest of their lives or until they chose to move.

Since then, Auckland Council has spent more than $53 million purchasing land bordering the park. Some seniors have left, but others have been allowed to rent the homes.

Those like Osborne, don't know how long they will be allowed to stay.

"Why can't we enjoy our senior years? Why do we have to be pushed out somewhere?"

The Local Board is preparing a business case to change the plan to allocate some land for the park's expansion and the rest for new social housing.

"We have the lowest level of social housing in Auckland, in Hillsborough, in this community. We have retirement villages opening but they are not affordable," says Fairey.

But it's not that simple. The deal cut before Auckland became a super city means there is a legal obligation to carry out the original plan.

"The land was purchased for public space. If we don't want to use it for that, then the Council will just need to make that revised decision, and that is something they will need to do in the next term," says Megan Tyler from Auckland Council.

It's now a stalemate, with homes and livelihoods on the line.


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