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Thursday, 25 April 2019 02:00 pm

Waiting list grows in Hutt Valley as houses remain empty

BOARDED UP: One of many boarded up houses in Lower Hutt. IMAGE: Amanda Herrera

BOARDED UP: One of many boarded up houses in Lower Hutt. IMAGE: Amanda Herrera

HUTT CITY councillors are angry that Housing New Zealand says there is low demand for community housing in the valley.

Plans continue to stall over repairs to boarded-up houses in Lower Hutt, and Housing New Zealand blames workload and lack of demand.

Marcus Bosch, Housing New Zealand general manager, says the cost of strengthening is high at more than $100,000 per unit, and buildings are subject to a robust assessment process before work begins.

The decision to re-strengthen is based on the cost against the property’s market value, size, layout and local demand.

Mr Bosch says Housing New Zealand has strengthened, refurbished and re-tenanted 190 quake-prone units in Wellington and work is prioritised in areas of high demand.

“There is currently a significant amount of housing in Lower Hutt with minimal need for state housing,” he says.

Hutt City Eastern Ward councillor Lisa Bridson believes Housing New Zealand continues to neglect the people who are in need of housing, as well as the community.

“I have heard rumours recently of people living in their cars in Lower Hutt, so to say there is little demand for housing beggars belief,” she says.

She says that the impact of the boarded up houses has had a widespread effect, with the wider community suffering in a ghost town.

In March this year Housing New Zealand told Ms Bridson that 130 families were on the wait-list for housing, with 78 families classed as high priority.

In 2012, families were displaced and given 90 days to find alternative accommodation after Housing New Zealand declared  56 buildings in Lower Hutt earthquake prone.

“I am disgusted that they evicted all of these tenants with no real plans for the future of the buildings, and that they still seem to be undecided about what to do almost two years later.”

Although work has been completed on some houses, many of them remain empty, and councillors are frustrated with the lack of information given to the community.

Ms Bridson says information given to the public about the future of the houses dates back to October last year and Housing New Zealand continues to fob people off.

“I fail to see how a press release that says nothing about future plans for the houses is good communication with the community,” she says.

The next release of information about the future is due after next month’s elections, a move which Ms Bridson believes is no coincidence.

“I believe the real problem is the low priority placed on social housing by this National Government” she says.


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