The Whangarei Accessible Housing Trust (W.A.H.T.) was established in 2006 as a charitable trust whose main purpose was to provide or assist disabled people with accessible affordable housing – primarily this was to be rental accommodation but with a view to eventually assisting disabled people achieve ownership of an accessible home.
The Trust was formed as a direct result of the huge demand and lack of supply for accessible homes, and the lack of viable options for disabled people. There are currently over 600 disabled people living in rest homes throughout New Zealand (well under retirement age) simply because there is no other alternative for them. Others remain living with their parents until their parents die, as they are unable to find suitable alternative accommodation.
The Trust started by buying 8 existing houses and modifying them. However, the Trust soon recognised that to build provided a better solution, as many more accessible features could be included, at virtually no additional cost, and it showcased how having an accessible environment, could ensure a person with a significant disability, could live independently.
The Trust has 27 homes, 8 of these are new homes are in Auckland. The remaining 19 homes are in Whangarei. Three of these homes were newly completed and tenanted in 2021.
To date the Trust has received national and international recognition as follows:
- Supreme Award – National Local Authority Community Development 2007
- Highly Commended: Certificate of Excellence, Accessible Design in Housing – CHAI 2007
- NZ Award for Excellence in Delivering Support Solutions – Australasian Housing Institute 2008
- Australasian Award for Excellence in Delivering, Support Solutions – Australasian Housing Institute 2009
- Leading Innovation Award – Australasian Housing Institute 2015