Desperate for a home

22:31, Aug 29 2012
CABIN FEVER: Moana Unasa and her kids Kira and Eli have been living in a Ranui caravan park for two-and-a-half years while waiting for a state house.

A whopping $45 million being spent on state housing in Auckland within the next three years won't lead to more homes.

Housing New Zealand is spending the funds on refurbishing and upgrading 80 existing houses, including 68 in West Auckland. It'll then subdivide the land and sell to developers to build private rental properties and community housing.

Half of the homes will be refurbished and others will be demolished and rebuilt, meaning the number of state houses available remains the same.

So too does the waiting time for desperate residents like Moana Unasa.

She's waited two-and-a-half years for a home during which time she, her partner and three kids have resorted to living in a small two-bedroom cabin at a Ranui caravan park.

Mrs Unasa is one of the 1138 people on the Housing New Zealand waiting list for West Auckland that includes Takapuna residents.


There's hot water and electricity in her cabin but the family cooks on a hot plate as the $360 a week rent doesn't get it a stove.

"The waiting periods for state houses are too long. They need to build more state houses and fix the ones they have," Mrs Unasa says.

"Why are they spending all this money and not getting more houses?"

Mrs Unasa has returned to the bottom of the waiting list after turning down three houses she felt were not safe for her children.

"I have a 4-year-old boy and they just wouldn't have worked with him. One was in a bad area and the others had high decks that I didn't think were safe," she says.

"It's fine to be here for a little while but not in the long run."

The Unasa family is now moving in with relatives in Kelston in the hope of landing a home soon.

Henderson Salvation Army operations manager Rhondda Middleton says Housing New Zealand's latest project does not help what she describes as the worst housing crises she's ever seen.

"We have four or five families come in here every week who are in desperate need of affordable housing and there just isn't enough to go around," she says.

"Some people are taking months to find houses and in the meantime they have to resort to caravan parks or living in incredibly cramped situations with extended family."

Housing New Zealand spokeswoman Marie Winfield says finding tenants temporary homes while the upgrades are done won't be difficult.

"We will do everything we can to assist them in the transfer and make sure the housing is suitable."

General manager of asset development Sean Bignell says many state homes are on large sections in Auckland which is not sustainable given the city's housing shortage.

"We want to replace these old state houses on very large sections with more contemporary housing options that fit into the broader community and are safe, affordable and use quality materials and modern construction methods," he says. "We have too many old and rundown three-bedroom state houses that we no longer have priority demand for."

In the case where the affected state houses are next door to each other the properties will be joined and made into one to subdivide.

Western Leader