Wānaka Sun       

The WAN solving accommodation issues

Posted at 6:00am Thursday 12 Nov, 2020 | By Pat Deavoll editor@thewanakasun.co.nz

Sometimes it takes a community to solve a problem, and that's why The Workforce Accommodation Network (The WAN) is reaching out to townsfolk in their mission to find seasonal workers affordable accommodation.

The WAN wants to connect those in the community who have a spare room, sleepout, house or even a caravan in summer, with the right worker for the right price, at the right time.

The issue hit home for The WAN founder Carmen Blackler of Wānaka when she struggled to find reasonably priced accommodation for three months when studying in Auckland.

“Launching The WAN and making the concept of a community solution for seasonal/temporary worker accommodation real, is extremely exciting,” she said. “Accommodation matters and so do our local businesses and seasonal workers. The WAN connects businesses, roomers and accommodators in a way that creates opportunities and value for all involved.”

Blackler said the idea came out of masters she started two years ago after seeing a lot of ski workers etc in Wānaka struggling to find accommodation.

“I also talked to people who had businesses where workers wouldn't turn up because they couldn't find accommodation,” she said.

“My study was in technological futures – the use of technology to solve business and social issues- and I thought this project would be a good one for my masters.  That was the genesis of the idea.

“I was thinking about kick-starting the business but then Covid hit. I was originally going to target the tourism sector but then I realised there were a lot of sectors where people move around for work- and that prompted me to get stuck in and build it.

“I want it to be a one-stop-shop for people who need accommodation and businesses who need staff accommodation.”

Blackler said the initiative doesn't launch properly until December because “we are still building the back end of the system” but already some businesses have registered and some accommodators are on board. 

“And we are starting to get the workers through the business now, she said.

“We bought the development forward because of Central Otago's need during the harvest. Long term we want to be a national platform but at the moment we are targeting Otago including Queenstown Lakes.”

The process is free. There are no costs to roomers. The WAN connects roomers with matched accommodators via local businesses, who vouch for the workers as dependable people with a reliable income. With local businesses at the centre of the process, the risk of accommodating a disrespectful roomer is reduced.

“Giving workers this step up to a better lifestyle will equate to much higher rates of contribution both to the businesses and the community,” said Blacker.

“For seasonal/temporary workers, the knowledge that the community they contribute to daily is supporting them by providing safe, affordable, and secure accommodation is invaluable.

“Their sense of belonging and worth will drive up their community contribution levels.” Blacker said.

Read edition 1000 of the Wānaka Sun here.


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