HNZ city fringe clients on edge
Vibrant diversity is what Auckland’s city-fringe suburbs are known for but the area is rapidly becoming bland, state tenants say.
Figures released to the Auckland City Harbour News under the Official Information Act show Housing New Zealand has sold 35 city-fringe houses in the last two years for $27.2 million.
It has bought one property in the area in that period – a 36-unit apartment in Freemans Bay – at a cost of $12.8 million.
State tenant Bob Tait lives in the Spring St pensioner complex. It was offered up for redevelopment by Housing New Zealand in November. No plans for Spring St have been revealed as yet.
‘‘I see the effect on people here. A lot of people tell me they wake in the middle of the night, worried and stressed,’’ Tait said.
‘‘It’s not just us, it’s a lot of Housing New Zealand blocks right around the city.’’
Waterview resident Bill MacKay says the sale of cityfringe properties is not surprising but Housing New Zealand is breaking up communities by doing so.
MacKay is the associate head of architecture at the University of Auckland and co-authored Beyond the State with writer and architect Andrea Stevens.
An effort needs to be made to keep tenants in their communities, he says.
‘‘If you’re rationalising the land in one area, don’t shift the people off.
‘‘Rationalise the land by all means, we want to house more people and we want to spend our money smartly, but put the money back into the area so the support networks are not broken up.’’
Westmere state tenant Gael Baldock says ‘‘pepper pot’’ state housing has made her area successful.
‘‘When I moved into the city fringe area it was not a particularly desirable area. It’s changed but only because you’ve got these people considered to be characters of the area that make it so diverse.’’
Waitemata Local Board member Deborah Yates says she would like to see the $14 million difference between the sale and purchase of state properties put back into the city-fringe area.
Housing New Zealand needs to work on maintaining the properties they still own in those suburbs, she says.
The board was aware of Housing New Zealand selling its city-fringe stock but no figures had been released until now, she says.
‘‘We feel very strongly that the fringe needs to maintain a good cross-section of residents of all ages and income brackets.’’
Freemans Bay Residents Association co-chair Lynne Butler says the money needs to go towards housing more Aucklanders.
‘‘I’m assuming they would use it to buy a piece of land and build more apartments to house more people. It’ll be interesting to see if that’s really what they’re going to do.’’
Housing New Zealand spokesperson Bryony Hilless says the profit from cityfringe property sales is reinvested back into areas of high demand such as Auckland and Christchurch.
Many of the city-fringe houses sold recently were older properties – some up to 80 years old – making them more expensive to maintain and often sitting on large under-utilised sections, she says.
Money from the sales is invested into building housing developments such as a new 22-unit complex in Mt Roskill and properties in Northern Glen Innes, Hilless says.
‘‘When we sell a vacant property, we always reinvest the proceeds from the sale in acquiring more homes that are fit for purpose and better meet the needs of tenants.’’
City life: State houses are being sold in Auckland’s city-fringe in favour of apartment buildings.
Stressful times: Spring St resident Bob Tait says state tenants all over the city fringe are worried.