Vagrants at vacant site
VAGRANTS at an abandoned state housing complex in Mt Albert have neighbours calling for action.
The Housing New Zealand site at 33 Asquith Ave has been empty for more than a year.
It is situated in one of the Government’s special housing areas, put in place across Auckland to fast-track housing development.
Housing New Zealand has not released any plans for development.
One 75-year-old neighbour, who asked not to be named, says living next door to the empty complex is frightening.
She has seen men jumping the fence and hiding in her garden multiple times.
Housing New Zealand removed a security light from the site in December which made the situation worse, she says.
She has since installed a security light in her garden.
The pensioner wrote to Housing New Zealand in January calling for security measures to be stepped up.
‘‘I’m really scared at night, I close the blinds before dark and just lie in bed waiting for the security light to come on. The first couple times I was scared, but the last couple of times I was so angry.’’
Mt Albert MP David Shearer says the site has become a ‘‘magnet’’ for crime.
The current fence does not go all the way around the perimeter and there is a lack of lighting and adequate security patrols, he says.
‘‘The main issue is that while there is indecision around very dilapidated buildings here it’s going to be a magnet for trouble.’’
Albert-Eden Local Board chairman Peter Haynes says work needs to happen on the site to make residents feel safe.
‘‘Housing New Zealand really do need to get a move on. We can’t have these older residents having various miscreants using their properties.’’
An Asquith Ave Community Group has been formed to disseminate information about the development. The group is hoping to know the plans for the site in April, a spokesman says. But safety concerns should be addressed immediately, he says.
Senior Sergeant Simon Welsh says the Ponsonby Community Policing Team is aware of the safety concerns surrounding Asquith Ave. It will begin foot patrols through the site in the next week in response to residents’ concerns.
Housing New Zealand spokesman Neil Adams says security at the site is a work in progress.
Representatives met with Asquith Ave neighbours last week to address safety concerns and are now looking at additional security options.
The units in the vacant apartment block are boarded up and fencing has been set up around the building.
Housing New Zealand’s security firm patrols the site regularly at night with greater frequency at the weekends, he says.
The lighting had to be disconnected as the demolition will begin later this month, Adams says.
‘‘Mindful of the concerns that have been raised we are currently looking at additional options for the next few weeks until demolition gets under way.
‘‘We are also reviewing security/usage options for the site post-demolition and, noting the feedback we’ve received, will advise residents once these have been agreed.’’
The company is not yet ready to release plans for development.
Security concerns: A resident speaks to Mt Albert MP David Shearer at the boundary of an empty state house complex on Asquith Ave.