Coun­cil house sits empty for 15 months

Central Leader - - OUT & ABOUT - AMANDA SAX­TON

A per­fectly good state house has sat empty in east Auck­land for 15 months while plans for its area’s re­de­vel­op­ment chopped and changed.

Fully mod­i­fied for wheel­chair users and need­ing no re­pairs to be made live­able, this half-empty du­plex on Pan­mure’s Tobruk Rd is at odds with Auck­land’s des­per­ate fam­i­lies sleep­ing in $2000-per­week mo­tels cour­tesy of Work and In­come, in cars, or in tents.

It’s an ex­am­ple of a house in limbo - ten­ants evicted, but de­mo­li­tion tak­ing longer than ex­pected.

Auck­land Ac­tion Against Poverty co­or­di­na­tor Vanessa Cole said that while such homes shouldn’t have been so rashly emp­tied in the first place, when va­cant they ‘‘should re­ally house those in need’’.

‘‘There are houses in Ta­maki, Pan­mure, and Glen Innes that have been empty for five years,’’ she said.

Data from the Min­istry of So­cial Devel­op­ment showed about 1348 peo­ple per month ap­plied for emer­gency ac­com­mo­da­tion in Auck­land be­tween Oc­to­ber and De­cem­ber last year.

That’s 10 times more ap­pli­cants than Welling­ton - a city with a third of Auck­land’s pop­u­la­tion - had.

The Tobruk Rd home was one of 2500 state houses trans­ferred from Hous­ing New Zealand to the Ta­maki Re­gen­er­a­tion Com­pany (TRC) in 2016.

Ninety-four of the houses are cur­rently empty and 19 have been so for more than six months, a TRC spokes­woman said.

Over the next 15 years they will all be bowled to make way for 7500 new homes, with the same amount of so­cial hous­ing re­tained.

TRC chief ex­ec­u­tive John Holyoak said that not only were the old homes ‘‘past their use-by­date’’, they were bar­ri­ers to fix­ing Auck­land’s hous­ing deficit.

‘‘There’s no way we can pro­vide more homes if we don’t make room for them.’’

Holyoak said that his com­pany aimed for a ‘‘less than one month’’ pe­riod be­tween ex­ist­ing ten­ants leav­ing and a home’s de­mo­li­tion.

He also said that some of the empty houses were un­in­hab­it­able due to meth con­tam­i­na­tion or dis­re­pair.

Not 15 Tobruk Rd, how­ever. Holyoak con­firmed it was in good shape, and had just been made avail­able for a ‘‘short-term ten­ancy’’ now its de­mo­li­tion date had been post­poned.

CHRIS SKEL­TON

This state house has sat empty for more than a year as devel­op­ers de­cide what to with it.

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