Teenagers are transforming empty state houses into party pads as Housing New Zealand moves Maraenui tenants out of earthquake-prone buildings.
The Napier suburb is becoming like a ghost town as the corporation empties out the 56 state houses that come under 20 per cent of the new building standard. More than 25 tenants have been given 90 days to relocate. It brings the number of vacant properties in Maraenui up to 96.
"The whole place is like a ghost town," community group Tu Tangata Maraenui spokeswoman Minnie Ratima said.
The houses with boarded up windows and overgrown lawns are being targeted by vandals and have become dumping grounds for unwanted rubbish.
Teenagers had been treating the empty properties as party houses while some used them as hiding places, Ms Ratima said.
"Parents don't know where to find their children, and there are real safety concerns because these children are often drunk or drugged. It's not as safe any more."
A Hawke's Bay police spokeswoman said empty houses being targeted by vandals was an "ongoing problem".
Ms Ratima believed the corporation was "rubbishing" Maraenui.
"They are turning what was once a friendly connected suburb into a run-down neighbourhood where the empty houses are posing a real threat to the safety of our families."
Housing NZ spokesman Sean Bignell said the earthquake-prone buildings could not be let because they were unsafe. The corporation intended to repair them if economically viable.
Mr Bignell told the Dominion Post last year that many houses were empty because no-one wanted to live in Maraenui. The corporation was looking at ways to improve housing in Maraenui. It is building 18 new state houses in the suburb.
Mr Bignell said the corporation would ask for the community's input when discussing how to improve housing and avoid having vacant properties.
- © Fairfax NZ News