486 houses stand empty

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - VIR­GINIA FAL­LON

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

PHO­TOS: VIR­GINIA FAL­LON

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.

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