Historic Dunedin building given new life as social housing | The Salvation Army

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Historic Dunedin building given new life as social housing

An aerial view of Dunedin city
Posted June 4, 2024

Media are invited to the opening of the newest Salvation Army Social Housing (SASH) property, in the Loan and Mercantile building at the corner of Willis and Thomas Burns Streets on Dunedin’s waterfront.

The opening is 10:30am on Wednesday 5 June. It will include a tour of some of the new units tenants will be living in.

The New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Co. Ltd building, originally known as the Otago Wool Stores, was built in 1872, for stock and station agents Driver Stewart and Co. Used for such varied purposes as goods storage and go-cart racing, the conversion of such a historic building into community housing is a first in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Salvation Army Territorial Director of Social Housing and Property Greg Foster was approached by developer Russell Lund in 2020, about the possibility of building and leasing social housing units in the building. As with all renovations of heritage buildings, there were significant challenges with design and engineering. The Dunedin City Council was supportive throughout this process, and plans submitted to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) were approved. HUD has agreed to a funding contract with The Salvation Army for an initial 15-year lease.

The new housing has 28 one-bedroom units, one two-bedroom unit and one three-bedroom unit. There is also an office for a fulltime housing support manager, community room for use by all, a courtyard with outside seating and a trampoline, a drying room and bike storage. In addition to the first floor being solely community housing, the second floor contains units that are available for private rental.

“Building homes in a warehouse building that also happens to be a heritage-listed building is fraught with risk,” says Foster. “But the end result that Russell and Suzanne Lund have come up with is of the highest quality.”

Salvation Army National Housing Operations Manager Fiona Matthews says: “We are really excited to be involved in this development. This is the first time community housing has been built in a heritage building, and we couldn’t have been more happy with the end result. Our whānau will be thrilled to be living is such a special place.”

SASH housing is for long-term tenants protected by the Residential Tenancies Act. Whānau are from the Housing Register and are referrals from The Salvation Army and other social service providers, which enables the opportunity for future ongoing wraparound services. Many whānau housed in SASH housing have never had the normality of long-term housing, and the adjustment to this can be an emotional and life-changing journey.

The Salvation Army looks after 471 properties in 26 locations across Aotearoa. Three major developments were completed in 2022. Two other projects are due to be completed this year housing larger families than done previously.

Last year, more than 150,000 Kiwis and their families were assisted by Salvation Army services, including SASH.

The Salvation Army Territorial Media Officer, 021 945 337, email: media@salvationarmy.org.nz (The Media Officer responds to enquiries from media outlets and journalists. If you would like to donate, are in need of help, or have some other non-media-related enquiry, please call 0800 53 00 00.)