MP predicts housing crisis not far off

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 12:00 15/10/2012

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Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway says Housing NZ's stocks in the city are nearing crisis point.

But the agency says the loss of 14 earthquake-prone properties from Manawatu has had little impact on its waiting list.

Six weeks ago Housing NZ gave 90-days' notice to 46 tenants of 14 properties in Feilding and Palmerston North because their homes were earthquake prone.

Housing NZ manager of tenancy services Jackie Pivac said those tenants were being helped to find new homes.

"Currently the rehousing has had little impact on our waiting list; we are still continuing to house those most in need on our Palmerston North area waiting list.

"We have made good progress working with affected tenants on a case-by-case basis to rehouse them in other safer properties."

As of Wednesday, 13 of the affected tenants had moved, nine more had accepted new properties and would move shortly, and a further seven had received property offers from Housing NZ.

Mr Lees-Galloway has previously been critical of the 90-day letters of notice the tenants were given, saying they should not be forced from their homes without having accommodation to move into.

"It's great news for the people being kicked out that they have found houses."

He was sceptical of claims there was little effect on Housing NZ waiting lists.

Not only were the tenants of the earthquake-prone houses moving into other Housing NZ accommodation, the buildings they were leaving were no longer available.

"Other people who are waiting for scarce accommodation as it is and we don't know what condition they are in, what type of accommodation they are in." Mr Lees-Galloway said accommodation and housing concerns were among the more common reasons constituents came into his office. "I get the feeling we're just about at the point where there will be a housing crisis in Palmerston North," he said.

"We're not there yet, but we're not far off it."

Mrs Pivac said housing needs in Manawatu were dynamic and subject to change.

"We approach this by regularly reviewing housing requirements in each region to address supply and demand.

"At the current time we believe we have the appropriate number of properties in Palmerston North.

"Our priority is the safety of our tenants and moving them to safer properties.

"Once this process is complete, we will focus on conducting further inspections on the affected properties to determine the best course of action.

"While the properties are vacant we will be taking action such as regularly monitoring them and using security measures to deter and reduce any vandalism, theft or damage.

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"Housing New Zealand has a dedicated team working one on one with the tenants living in affected buildings. We house those most in need, so we are conscious that the majority of affected tenants will require assistance moving into a new property.

- Manawatu Standard

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