HNZ scale down plan?

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By KRIS DANDO

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.’’

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