A sigh of relief was let out from Community Gateway chief executive officer Craig Thomson when the hammer fell on the Kempsey Shire Council owned Judith Evill units at last night’s hotly contested auction.
Community Gateway produced the winning bid of $1.1 million and Mr Thomson declared it’s a huge win for the Macleay and the elderly and disabled people within the community who rely on affordable housing.
“There is a big need for affordable accommodation in Kempsey and many of our clients need a place to live but can’t afford it and are forced to move in with family, friends or relocate to another region,” Mr Thomson told the Argus.
“We prevented the property from falling into the hands of developers, which would have resulted in a terrible loss for the community.
“We will spend more money to provide the best quality we can for our clients and keep the Judith Evill units as affordable housing.”
Mr Thomson said the five existing tenants will remain at the current rent and plans to rejuvenate the units will start in the near future.
The Community Gateway plans to improve the quality of the housing before completing further developments to increase available accommodation.
“We have plans to firstly remodel and renovate the accommodation, essentially give it a facelift as it has been left to be run down for years,” Mr Thomson said.
“It’s still early stages of discussions but we are considering remodelling the units into three-bedroom accommodation, which will allow a nurse to live with two clients.
“We are also considering building more units on the vacant space of land.
“First we need to complete our research into what specialised accommodation would best help bolster our community and support those in need.”
Mr Thomson had been dedicated to ensuring the Judith Evill units remain as affordable housing since he first heard Kempsey Shire Council planned to sell the property almost two years ago.
“We were extremely disappointed when council announced they would be selling the Judith Evill units,” Mr Thomson said.
“We wanted to see it remain as a community asset and we attempted to work with the Kempsey Shire Council them to find a resolution.
“We offered to take on a management role with the council maintaining ownership, however council weren’t interested.”
The organisation dug deep into their pockets to purchase the property but Mr Thomson claims it would have been a “terrible and massive loss for the community” if they were unsuccessful.
“The organisation is extremely relieved and excited to have won the auction. We are disappointed we had to go to that sort of money but we were committed to doing it for the community,” Mr Thomson said.
“It’s a vital cog in the community, to give the elderly and disabled affordable and flexible accommodation.”
Community Gateway welcomes the support from local businesses who are interested in helping the renovations and development of the Judith Evill units.
Anyone seeking support can contact Community Gateway on 6524-5000.
Community Gateway’s vision is to be the leader in partnering with people to create and maintain independence in inclusive communities.