486 houses stand empty
Hundreds of Housing New Zealand properties in the Wellington region are empty while those that need them wait for a new home.
A combination of earthquake strengthening, methamphetamine contamination and ‘‘pending sales’’ is keeping 486 state homes in the area out of the hands of the 523 people who need them.
Across the country 2486 houses are vacant and 5012 would-be tenants crowd the waiting list.
Housing NZ said the properties were only a small proportion of its more than 64,000 houses nationwide and it was not unexpected for there to be vacancies.
However, Salvation Army policy analyst Allan Johnson said the government organisation had left the properties empty on purpose to justify selling them off.
‘‘The properties aren’t used because they’re empty, not because there aren’t people needing them.’’
The issue of earthquake strengthening state houses was ‘‘convenient’’ and methamphetamine contamination was used as a guise to let houses sit empty. The country needed more social housing to properly care for its people, he said.
‘‘It has been orchestrated for political purposes and people have been offered a moral panic. It’s not an easy fix, but if we work hard we could see an improvement in five years.’’
Lower Hutt topped the Wellington region with 184 vacant homes, followed by Wellington City with 136, just ahead of Porirua City’s 126. The three areas also have the highest concentration of Housing NZ homes.
Housing NZ splits the properties into short and long term vacant. In the region 118 homes are short-term vacant, meaning they will be tenanted in up to five weeks.
Out of the 368 that are longterm, 57 are contaminated by meth, 100 are for sale and 128 are earthquake prone.
Minister responsible for Housing NZ, Bill English, was overseas, but his office issued a statement saying Housing NZ had sold houses that were deemed to be in the wrong location or the wrong size for tenants, demolishing older properties and replacing them with new ones.
It was aiming to build 2000 new homes in the next two years.
‘‘Currently there is a mismatch in demand – we have vacant properties in areas of low demand and a shortage of supply in areas of high demand but let’s be clear: we are not taking homes from under people. If the houses are needed, they are not sold.
‘‘Housing NZ reinvests the proceeds of sales to build new homes in areas of high demand like Auckland.’’
Labour’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford said the Government was leaving hundreds of state houses lying empty while families were living in cars and campgrounds.
‘‘It’s incompetent and callous to allow so many state houses to lie empty when there are so many families desperate for a roof over their heads.’’
Porirua’s state houses, P5
A Salvation Army policy analyst said state houses are being left empty to justify selling them off.
Housing New Zealand is selling 40 of its Porirua houses.