At the 2015 LGNZ EXCELLENCE Awards.
Fulton Hogan EXCELLENCE Award for Community Impact.
Finalist: Kawerau District Council – Neighbourhood of Healthy Homes
Kawerau District Council developed the innovative Neighbourhood of Healthy Homes initiative with the aim of ensuring healthier homes and increased neighbourhood connectedness.
The project was launched following a 2008 study which found many homes were cold, uncomfortable and unsafe. The report pinpointed the significant health, energy and social costs of poorly maintained homes.
Kawerau’s population includes high proportions of older and younger people. Both groups are vulnerable to poor health associated with cold and damp homes.
The council took a proactive approach to improving housing stock by increasing participation in the government’s Warm Up NZ programme while, at the same time, building the community. It worked with retrofit energy company Energy Options which was promoting Warm Up NZ in the region and looking for ways to reach lower socio-economic communities.
The scheme took a two-pronged approach. It harnessed the power of communities to help build neighbourhoods into great places to live. It also worked on improving health and housing by helping people take advantage of government insulation programmes and advising them on how to save money on power bills.
Successful initiatives to promote the scheme included flyers, personal visits to every household, energy and maintenance checks, referrals to the insulation provider and follow-up visits.
The initial idea was to run the project for three years, finishing in June this year, with 200-300 houses benefiting. However, efficient management of resources enabled it to be extended to December 2015 meaning improvements to a total of 400 households in five neighbourhoods.
Awards judges praised the project as a “great example of community impact” which addressed community health and safety, and achieved health benefits and energy savings for many local residents.
LGNZ president Lawrence Yule said, “This initiative not only resulted in reduced energy use and healthier homes, it engaged and strengthened communities, motivating people to work to improve housing in the Kawerau community.”
This article was first published in the September 2015 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.