State houses empty for four years

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - VIR­GINIA FAL­LON

First they were too big and now they’re too small but soon, ac­cord­ing to Hous­ing New Zealand, four empty houses in Porirua City will be just right.

The prop­er­ties have been empty for four years, the last tenants were re­lo­cated so the houses could be earth­quake proofed - some­thing HNZ now says they didn’t need.

Ten months af­ter the agency tried to sell the three bed­room houses be­cause the de­mand was for smaller homes, it now has plans to re­model the prop­er­ties into ac­com­mo­da­tion for larger fam­i­lies.

Plans for the re­fur­bish­ment are now un­der way, part of a ‘‘sig­nif­i­cant build­ing pro­gramme across the greater Welling­ton re­gion’’, a spokesman said.

Porirua City mayor Mike Tana said he was dis­ap­pointed to hear about the houses.

‘‘Peo­ple need homes and to have houses empty for years is not ac­cept­able.’’

The Gear Ter­race prop­er­ties, in the city’s east, were ad­ver­tised to in­vestors in Septem­ber 2016 but were re­moved from the mar­ket af­ter 24 hours.

At the time a Hous­ing NZ spokes­woman said the de­mand was mainly for one and two bed­room homes.

‘‘How­ever, in re­sponse to chang­ing de­mand we’ve taken them off the mar­ket and re­con­sid­er­ing how we use them.’’

This week, a spokesman said there were now plans to re­model the prop­er­ties into hous­ing for larger fam­i­lies.

‘‘[The prop­er­ties] were as­sessed for po­ten­tial quake proof­ing in May 2014. At that time, it was de­ter­mined that they didn’t need that work.

‘‘Also at that time, there was no de­mand for that type of prop­erty [three bed­rooms] so the de­ci­sion was made to sell.’’

But Zarella Ry­der dis­agreed, say­ing there were plenty of Porirua peo­ple who would have taken a three bed­room home dur­ing the last four years.

Rhy­der was re­lo­cated from her Gear Tce home for earth­quake strength­en­ing and said she would have loved to have stayed on the street.

‘‘If there was noth­ing wrong they should have been rented. There’s a hous­ing cri­sis go­ing on, ev­ery­one knows that.’’

Labour MP Kris Faafoi said there ap­peared to be ‘‘no rhyme or rea­son’’ as to what was hap­pen­ing with the houses but they shouldn’t be empty.

‘‘The num­ber of Emer­gency Hous­ing Grants are go­ing up and con­tinue to go up while tax­pay­ers are pay­ing and empty houses and empty land sit idle.’’

He ex­pected an an­nounce­ment about a new de­vel­op­ment on the va­cant Hous­ing NZ land on Cas­tor Loop, that had sat va­cant for seven years, to be made soon.

‘‘If they think peo­ple are go­ing to be sucked in months be­fore an elec­tion when the gov­ern­ment has sat on their asses for seven years then they’re wrong.’’

As­so­ciate min­is­ter for so­cial hous­ing Al­fred Ngaro said the gov­ern­ment com­mit­ted $354m for emer­gency hous­ing to pro­vide 2150 emer­gency and tran­si­tional hous­ing places last year.

‘‘We’re the first gov­ern­ment to of­fer this sort of sup­port to our most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple and we will en­sure ev­ery­one who needs help gets it, no mat­ter what the cost.’’

‘‘In re­la­tion to the land on Cas­tor Cres, I un­der­stand Hous­ing NZ is in­ves­ti­gat­ing sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment of new so­cial hous­ing in this com­mu­nity.’’

De­tails would be avail­able later this year, he said.

Hous­ing NZ’s March re­port said, of the 1832 va­cant homes across the coun­try, 87 were in Porirua.

It clas­si­fied 23 as for sale, 29 as be­ing un­der re­pair and 13 as be­ing meth af­fected. There are 2649 state homes in the city.

Ac­cord­ing to lat­est fig­ures, 79 peo­ple were wait­ing for so­cial hous­ing in March 2017.

PHOTO: VIR­GINIA FAL­LON, KRIS DANDO/STUFF

The prop­erty as it was mar­keted in Septem­ber 2016. Be­low, Labour MP Kris Faafoi says the houses shouldn’t be left empty.

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