En­ti­tled to mis­giv­ings

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

There was no other op­tion for Hous­ing New Zealand but to strengthen or de­mol­ish se­verely earth­quake-prone state houses in Porirua, but you can’t blame res­i­dents for feel­ing anx­ious or an­gry.

Forty-four ten­ants from 27 units are be­ing forced from their homes due to the quake risk posed by brick walls be­tween flats and brick chim­neys.

The nine build­ings meet less than 20 per cent of code. Hous­ing NZ has to act, and there is no way for the prop­er­ties to re­main in­hab­it­able while the strength­en­ing work is car­ried out.

At least half of the ten­ants have al­ready been found al­ter­na­tive hous­ing, no mean feat given most fam­i­lies ap­ply­ing for a state house must wait for at least a year.

But the ten­ants of at-risk units in the Cas­tor Loop feel jilted by the piece­meal wear­ing down of their community.

The global eco­nomic cri­sis was likely a big fac­tor in Hous­ing NZ’s fail­ure to se­cure a pri­vate part­ner for its Cas­tor Loop project, which saw 27 old state houses bull­dozed to make way for be­tween 15 and 22 new rental units, a mix of pri­vate and state.

But it was al­ways go­ing to be an am­bi­tious ven­ture. There were – and still re­main – so many other res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment op­tions in Porirua which of­fer greater re­turn and fewer con­ces­sions.

And it is the Cas­tor Loop res­i­dents who have had to live among the empty lots for the past three years and, re­port­edly, among empty and firedam­aged houses that have seen lit­tle at­ten­tion from their owner.

Hous­ing NZ has had a busy sched­ule of en­er­gy­ef­fi­ciency retrofits but it needs to re­mem­ber that when you own ev­ery, or al­most ev­ery, house on the block, you’re not only re­spon­si­ble for main­tain­ing the health and safety of the build­ings, you’re re­spon­si­ble for the so­cial health and safety of a neigh­bour­hood.

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