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