HNZ scale down plan?
Housing New Zealand says it is continuing to spend in Porirua East, despite politicians questioning its commitment to the urban renewal programme in the suburb.
The matter of HNZ’s spending in Porirua East was raised at a recent meeting of Porirua City Council, which voted to re-direct $100,000 that was assigned to the upgrading of state housing stock, due to the delay of HNZ works.
Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett, along with a number of councillors, expressed concern that this indicated a ‘‘scaling down’’ of HNZ’s work in this part of the city.
Mr Leggett wants to know if there are delays or actual budget cuts and, if the latter, will lobby against it.
‘‘If they’re planning to cut back on the work in Porirua East, we need to know,’’ he said.
‘‘Housing is not part of our core business as a council, but there needs to be a political response.
‘‘There are over 3000 state houses in Porirua and it’s important for our community that they’re as modern as possible.’’
Last week Mana MP Kris Faafoi waded into the debate.
He described the Government’s track record on investing in social housing as ‘‘abysmal’’ and pointed to National selling off or neglecting state houses in the 1990s.
‘‘ It seems as if nothing has changed,’’ he said.
Figures show a sharp reduction in HNZ’s capital budget for renewal work in Porirua East: $2.43 million for the year ending 2011, as opposed to $ 3.4m for the last financial year and $4.9m in the year ended 2009.
HNZ operations director Sarah Hill said the corporation remained committed to the renewal project in Porirua East, but admitted there had been an adjustment in the budget and a restructuring of staff.
‘‘ We are continuing to spend through other areas of work.
‘‘Some real achievements include reducing graffiti, improved community safety and a new park at Waitangirua through [PCC’s] village planning process.
‘‘We are committed to bringing all state housing to a decent standard within 10 years. Homes in Porirua East that require upgrades will be prioritised in relation to other homes around the country.’’
Porirua city councillor Euon Murrell said not maintaining the state housing stock up to ‘‘ an acceptable standard’’ will make parts of the city look ‘‘third world’’.
‘‘The work they [HNZ] have done in parts of Porirua East has been very good; we need to acknowledge that. But there are some terrible houses there that need maintenance and any budget cuts or holdups are not acceptable. They have made a commitment to this city and I want them to follow through.’’
Ms Hill provided data showing 15 new houses were built in Flora St in the year ended 2010, and there have been improvements to 100 existing houses, including new driveways, security lighting and better fencing. Two new homes will be built over summer, at a cost of $ 880,000, while $ 50,000 will be spent on ‘‘ streetscape’’ work to enhance 36 properties.
The next focus is upgrades and further development of Ixion Lane, which has had a delayed start.
Mana-based National list MP Hekia Parata said the Government allocated $124.5m in this year’s Budget to HNZ, with $ 100m to upgrade current housing stock, with the remainder for new builds.
‘‘We needed that much just to bring state houses up to a basic standard after Labour totally neglected them for nine years.’’