Call to fix rundown houses
A principal is calling for something to be done about empty and dilapidated state houses that border her school.
Dianne Pomare is the head of Maori language immersion school Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Nga Maungarongo on Haverstock Rd in Sandringham.
The kura kaupapa is next door to a development of 19 Housing New Zealand homes.
Over the past three years the department has been reviewing the future of the houses as it works to reassess its stock of properties across the country.
In that time the 1950s-era houses on Haverstock Rd have become extremely rundown, Ms Pomare says.
Families still live in 13 of the buildings but six have been completely boarded up.
"Even the ones that still have families living in them don't get taken care of and the fences are falling down. It's just so ugly. It just gives the whole area a ghetto look," Ms Pomare says. "People who come to our school say: ‘Gee, this is a bit rundown'."
She has been in regular contact with the department about the properties and says she has been given a lot of different answers about what could happen with them.
"They talked about doing something like what was done in Glen Innes and the last I heard was they were taking them all away and getting a private company to build," Ms Pomare says.
She says it seems like a waste for the Haverstock Rd houses to be empty while a decision is made and so many families are in need.
"In our kura we have a lot of parents who come from a long way away and they tell us they would love to have accommodation in the area but they don't qualify.
"It's crazy - here we have our kids' parents coming a long way and needing a state house and these houses are just sitting there," she says.
"If they don't have the millions to rebuild they should be fixing them up."
At the last count there were 130 names on the waiting list for homes in Housing New Zealand's Greys Ave and Morningside area that incorporates Sandringham.
"Housing New Zealand would probably say they can't be fixed up because they're too far gone. If they are too far gone why are families still living in some of them?" Ms Pomare says.
Housing New Zealand manager of tenancy services for Northland, West and Central Auckland Angela Pearce says the department is working on a plan for the houses' future.
She acknowledges the process has been slow so far and is assuring the community a decision will be made in the next few months.
Ms Pearce says staff met the tenants in May and are planning to visit again in the next few weeks to discuss their homes.
Some of the families will be offered a transfer to another state house if this is needed.
Ms Pearce says the properties that have been boarded up are in very poor condition and it would be too expensive to repair and re-tenant them while a decision is made.
"We cannot spend tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayers' money repairing these properties when they are being considered for redevelopment.
"Due to its location, the costs of redeveloping the site are very high. As a public organisation we need to ensure that whatever work is done on the site makes financial sense.
"Earlier this year we sought expert advice from private developers on how we can redevelop the 19 state houses in a financially prudent way," she says.
As part of the Tamaki Transformation Programme, 156 state houses in northern Glen Innes are being redeveloped to create 260 new homes. The department will own only 78, 39 will be offered to other community housing providers and the rest will be put up for private sale.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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