Tenants bumped after earthquake risk
Housing New Zealand tenants across the country are being shunted between earthquake-prone properties, with entire streets boarded up ahead of strengthening work.
More than 250 Housing New Zealand homes have been deemed an earthquake risk, with Lower Hutt one of the worst affected areas.
Auckland, Porirua and Wellington also have dozens of buildings requiring work.
The situation has been labelled "unacceptable" by the Lower Hutt Mayor, and some tenants have been bumped several times between earthquake-prone properties.
Almost one whole side of Harrison Cres is boarded up, while on Durham Cres grass verges in front of abandoned properties have been left to grow wild.
Johnny Brock-Smith said he and his partner had lived in a Housing New Zealand home on Durham Cres for two years.
In September they were told they needed to move out as the flat had been assessed as an earthquake risk.
The pair were shifted to a new address on Naenae Rd. They had no sooner settled in when they got another letter in December, saying their new home had been assessed as earthquake-prone.
Housing New Zealand said it would let them know if they had to move out in the first three months of this year.
Mr Brock-Smith said the process was very stressful. "I can't sleep at night."
Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace said he understood that Housing New Zealand needed to address its earthquake-prone properties.
However it was "unacceptable" to have houses boarded up and left vacant, he said.
"Plywood on the windows gives a clear signal to vandals that no-one is home."
Housing New Zealand tenancy services regional manager Jackie Pivac said 70 units - in 66 buildings - were boarded up in the Hutt Valley.
"Although boarding can be unattractive it is unfortunately necessary in some cases to deter theft and vandalism from our properties while they are vacant."
Mr Brock-Smith's property on Naenae Rd had received an initial assessment, but was not likely to need urgent work, "so it is unlikely the tenants will have to move again anytime soon".
Inspections were continuing, and work on design strengthening was also under way.
Housing NZ could not say what the inspections and work were costing.
Lower Hutt: 56
New Plymouth: 2
Palmerston North: 21
Upper Hutt: 10
Some buildings have more than one unit. Christchurch was excluded as 60 buildings are undergoing detailed seismic assessment.
The Dominion Post