Hundreds of empty state houses in Wellington, while 523 wait for new home

A boarded up Housing NZ home in Porirua.
VIRGINIA FALLON/ FAIRFAX NZ

A boarded up Housing NZ home in Porirua.

Hundreds of Housing New Zealand properties in the Wellington region are empty, while hundreds of people wait for a new home.

A combination of earthquake strengthening, methamphetamine contamination and "pending sales" is keeping 486 state homes in the area out of the hands of the 523 people that need them.

Across New Zealand, 2486 houses are vacant, and 5012 would-be tenants crowd the waiting list.

The door is open, but no one is home in this state house.
VIRGINIA FALLON/ FAIRFAX NZ

The door is open, but no one is home in this state house.

Housing NZ says the vacant properties are a small proportion of its more than 64,000 houses nationwide, and it is not unexpected for there to be vacancies.

READ MORE:
* Tenant wins apology after long wait with leaky roof
* Housing NZ's biggest loser
* Housing NZ to build, buy 5000 houses in next three years

However, Salvation Army policy analyst Allan Johnson believes the government organisation has left the properties empty on purpose to justify selling them off.

An empty state house in Porirua.
VIRGINIA FALLON/ FAIRFAX NZ

An empty state house in Porirua.

"The properties aren't used because they're empty, not because there aren't people needing them."

The issue of earthquake strengthening state houses was "convenient", and methamphetamine contamination was used as a guise to let houses sit empty, he said. Meanwhile, the country needed more social housing.

"It has been orchestrated for political purposes and people have been offered a moral panic. It's not an easy fix, but if we work hard we could see an improvement."

Windows are boarded up in empty state houses.
VIRGINIA FALLON/ FAIRFAX NZ

Windows are boarded up in empty state houses.

Lower Hutt topped the region with 184 vacant homes, followed by Wellington City with 136, just ahead of Porirua's 126. The three areas also have the highest concentration of Housing NZ homes.

Ad Feedback

Housing NZ splits the properties into short and long-term vacant. In the region, 118 homes are short-term vacant, meaning they will be tenanted in up to five weeks. Of the 368 that are long-term, 57 are contaminated by meth, 100 are for sale and 128 are earthquake-prone.

Bill English, the minister responsible for Housing NZ, has been overseas, but his office issued a statement last week saying Housing NZ had sold houses that were deemed to be in the wrong location or wrong size for tenants, demolished older properties and replaced them with new ones.

It was aiming to build 2000 new homes in the next two years.

"Currently there is a mismatch in demand – we have vacant properties in areas of low demand and a shortage of supply in areas of high demand but let's be clear: we are not taking homes from under people. If the houses are needed, they are not sold," the statement said.

"Housing NZ reinvests the proceeds of sales to build new homes in areas of high demand like Auckland."

Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford said the Government was leaving hundreds of state houses lying empty while families were living in cars and campgrounds.

"It's incompetent and callous to allow so many state houses to lie empty when there are so many families desperate for a roof over their heads."

WHAT THEY SAID:

* Mana MP Kris Faafoi: "It isn't acceptable. There's been so many missed opportunities for local homes. We hear the message that they need different sizes, but [the number of houses] isn't going up."

* Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett: "We know there are [several] families wanting to rent and there's a significant number of vacancies and I want clarity. What is their plan for existing and new stock in Porirua, where the need is absolutely significant?"

* Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson described the 136 empty homes in Wellington as "unacceptable". There were "clearly problems with the management of the stock of houses if so many are under repair".

* Rongotai MP Annette King said there was "an ignorance of housing needs in Wellington". The council needed to form a partnership with central government similar to the housing initiative struck by the previous Labour government.

* Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the city was "familiar with the challenge of providing housing up to modern standards". The Government's state housing shakeup forced "councils and community providers to be innovative in how we respond to needs".

* Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace said there was a big demand in the Hutt Valley for warm, dry and affordable rental accommodation. Much of the Housing NZ stock was old and he said his council was keen to work with Housing NZ.

* Lower Hutt-based National list MP Chris Bishop said he was regularly challenged by the community, who were naturally concerned at the sight of so many empty sections. Housing NZ was rethinking its plans for Lower Hutt and was no longer intending to sell its empty Epuni land.

* Hutt South MP Trevor Mallard said the news that Housing NZ was again looking at its options was good. He believed the Government had to take a stronger hand and direct Housing NZ to make better use of its land.

* Kapiti Mayor Ross Church: "We're fortunate there's not big numbers and it's not a significant issue for us here in Kapiti, and it's something we should be grateful for."

* Horowhenua Mayor Brendan Duffy said that social housing numbers in Horowhenua seemed about right, but some of the houses might need alteration to match up with family sizes.

* Otaki MP Nathan Guy said a condition of selling state homes was that they went to a community housing provider and must remain as social housing. He said of the 16 empty houses across his electorate, five were being repaired and four were meth contaminated. "That leaves only seven vacant, a fraction of the nearly 400 Housing NZ homes in the region."

BY THE NUMBERS:
Hastings: 1207 state houses, 38 empty: 13 under repair, 10 meth contaminated, 1 ready to let, 13 pending sale.
Horowhenua: 179 state houses, 8 empty: 1 under repair, 2 meth contaminated, 1 ready to let, 3 pending sale.
Kapiti Coast: 213 state houses, 8 empty: 3 under repair, 2 meth contaminated, 0 ready to let, 3 pending sale.
Lower Hutt: 3429 state houses, 184 empty: 49 under repair, 23 meth contaminated, 13 ready to let, 17 pending sale.
Napier: 1430 state house, 59 empty: 6 under repair, 28 meth contaminated, 1 ready to let, 2 pending sale.
Porirua: 2661 state houses, 126 empty: 33 under repair, 15 meth contaminated, 2 ready to let, 40 pending sale.
Upper Hutt: 406 state houses, 24 empty: 4 under repair, 1 meth contaminated, 2 ready to let, 11 pending sale.
Wellington: 1874 state houses, 136 empty: 17 under repair, 14 meth contaminated, 1 ready to let, 26 pending sale.

 - Stuff

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

Man dead after crash

The Highway is closed in both directions following the crash.

A man has died and another person taken to hospital with serious injuries after a three-car crash in Kumeu, West Auckland.

Dog walker hit by car

Auckland's Tamaki Drive is a busy thoroughfare.

Woman critically injured and one of her dogs dead after being hit by car near Auckland yacht club.

NZ's 'face of poverty' video

Lynley Beazley says she would not be able to survive without food parcels from The Salvation Army.

Lynlie Beazley has $22 a week left for food. It's been two years since she ate fresh fruit.

Gang beneficiary runs $6m property video

Head Hunters east chapter president Wayne Doyle (file photo).

Notorious gang leader believed to the target of major police operation.

Wellington

'Gay village' vetoes church union

Sara Rimmer, left, and Alexandra Saunders were refused a church wedding in St Peter's Anglican Church in Paekākāriki, on ...

Paekākāriki is known for being liberal. But not when it came to Alex and Sara's wedding.

More downpours, gales

12072017 News photo MONIQUE FORD / STUFF
Wellington rain and wind weather

Gales could whip up to 130kmh, while heavy rain on the cards with thunderstorm risk.

Who'll be Lester's new 2IC?

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester, right, will announce his replacement for Deputy Mayor Paul Eagle within the next ...

Councillor with less than a year's experience in the mix to be new deputy mayor.

Turfed out by Wellington's wind video

Karori artificial turf blown away.

Contractors laid artificial turf in Karori, but underestimated the capital's infamous breeze.

Canterbury

Whitebaiter's river death 'tragic'

Helen Wood died at Kairaki Beach, in North Canterbury, on Friday night. The beach is popular with fishers and ...

Helen Wood reversed her trailer onto the beach before her car went into the river with her inside.

1600 delegates coming

The Piano in the preforming arts precinct is another piece of the venue jigsaw puzzle for the conference.

With no convention centre built, Christchurch's largest post-quake conference required a venue "jigsaw"

Doctor loses citizenship fight

Dr Robert Taylor has twice fought a decision to revoke his citizenship. He won the first time but the second time a ...

Robert Taylor didn't mention a sex offence arrest when he applied to be a Kiwi.

$3.4m budget blowout

Christchurch City Council chief executive Karleen Edwards. The council has overspent by $3.4 million on personnel, ...

The council's spend on personnel has blown out by $3.4m – mainly due to hiring consultants to fill vacancies.

Waikato

Preparing for peak kitten

Waikato SPCA expects to help at least 3000 animals this calendar year, many of them kittens.

Breeding season is getting longer and this year is expected to be the busiest yet.

Search for fisherman

Police and the coastguard looking for a missing fisherman at Papanui Point at Ruapuke.

Emergency services are searching for person who fell into the water at Ruapuke, near Raglan.

Powered parachute crashes

The powered parachute crashed on takeoff.

Man in powered parachute crashed on take-off, hitting a metal bollard.

Man struck by tree dies

The man was out chainsawing trees when one fell and struck him. He died at the scene.

Man chainsawing on a rural Coromandel property has died after a tree fell on him.

Taranaki

New lattes: Novelty or nutritional?

Turmeric and beetroot lattes are becoming popular but won't be replacing anyone's flat white or cappuccino any time soon.

Turmeric and beetroot lattes are trendy and tasty but aren't a miracle health cure.

'Undesirable' gully

Martin Moeller goes through Lucy Gully a few times a week and is disappointed that it has become a dumping ground.

A scenic redwood forest in Egmont National Park is becoming a dumping ground, a neighbour says.

'I want my pig back'

The wild pig that had been wandering around New Plymouth has been caught and will be taken to live on a farm.

A suburban sow gone wild has been caught, but her owner will huff and puff for the return of the piggy, pig, pig.

Taranaki lifesavers scoop awards

Todd Velvin won the DHL Instructor of the year award at the Surf Life Saving awards.

Todd Velvin, DHL Instructor of the Year, says surf lifesaving is "pretty hard" to give up.

Manawatu

Loud jets irk residents video

Sanson resident Bill Tooley points to where fighter jets have been flying over his home.

Could howling pets and shaking houses become the new norm in Sanson?

Gorge options given

The 13 alternative route options are available for public viewing and comment on the NZTA website.

Thirteen alternative routes to the Manawatū Gorge have been laid out for the public to discuss.

Immigration fraud

Mohammad Khan was under pressure from family when committing immigration fraud, the Palmerston North District Court heard.

His mother was denied entry to New Zealand eight times, so he lied to authorities to get her in.

Fletcher Reinforcing expands

Fletcher Reinforcing Levin branch manager Donny Smith and administrator Jen Syme at the company's Main Rd South site.

Fletcher Reinforcing's Levin branch is to hire 25 new staff.

Nelson

Revved up over hobby

04092017 NEWS PHOTO BRADEN FASTIER / STUFF
Preston Brunell of Stoke Mechanical and Tyres.

Nelson man Preston Brunell has got plenty of mileage from his lifelong love of custom cars.

New marine frontiers

Dr Serean Adams, Cawthron aquaculture group manager at the Cawthron Aquaculture Park.

New species and technologies will increase resilience of aquaculture stock for the future, industry told.

Life-changing loss

15092017 NEWS PHOTO BRADEN FASTIER / NELSON MAIL
Margaret Lacy holds a picture of her late husband Peter Lacy who had ...

Dementia affects tens of thousands of Kiwis, eventually taking everything from them.

Wet spring for region

It's been a wet September in the Nelson/Tasman region, with higher than average rainfall.

Spring starts out on the wrong foot in Nelson but it's not all bad news.

Marlborough

Trek almost turns tragic

Waihopai Valley woman Del Bissell, right, fell ill while trekking in the Mongolian mountains, pictured here with fellow ...

Four days into a two-week horse trek in the isolated Altai Mountains, Del Bissell realised she was in serious trouble.

Muddy cover-up fails

Reid Kevin Heyward has been caught poaching up the Awatere Valley in Marlborough. (File photo)

The number plates were carefully covered in mud so no-one could identify the truck. But then the farmer showed up.

Potholes made him swerve

Robert James Pickering was caught drink-driving on State Highway 63 near Wairau Valley. (File photo)

Drink-driver who "works hard, plays hard" drives into oncoming traffic with bottle of booze in hand.

Librarian appeals apology order

Former Rai Valley Area School librarian Faye Leov in 2010 after receiving an apology from the school board for her ...

A former school librarian behind a defamatory letter claiming her former boss was a bully is to appeal a judge's decision to make her apologise.

South Canterbury

Craigmore a designer's 'dream' video

Olympian Jock Paget is being hosted at Craigmore Station for the first fundraising event for a proposed new eventing course.

Olympian throws support behind proposed world class eventing course at Craigmore Station.

Fine weather back

A severe weather warning was in place for heavy winds in Canterbury on Monday morning.

The majority of South Canterbury is expected to have fine weather on Tuesday.

Call for model plane size limits

South Canterbury Model Aero Club vice-president Robbie Hellewell launches his Parkzone Visionair AS3X aircraft into the ...

Safety concerns prompt SC Aero Club to call for more rules around model aeroplanes.

Mechanics recall bygone era

Former workmates, from left, Bernie Foster, Allan Averis and Gordon Hutcheon check out some of the old tractor models ...

Three former Timaru colleagues take a trip down memory lane.

Otago

Fire victim's family 'gutted'

A Housing New Zealand house where the body of a man was found after a fire.

Heartbroken family speaks of their devastation in losing their father in a house fire.

False alarms go off due to thunder

A thunder and lightning storm hit Queenstown and Central Otago on Monday morning.

Lightning and thunder storm cuts keep fire brigade volunteers busy in Queenstown.

Family 'wrecked' as search suspended

Police are still appealing for sightings of missing Dunedin man Stephen Lowe.

The search for missing man Stephen Lowe has been suspended.

Two MPs for Clutha-Southland

Clutha-Southland New Zealand First candidate Mark Patterson watches his leader Winston Peters, give his coalition speech ...

Clutha-Southland has a new New Zealand First MP, Lawrence farmer Mark Patterson.

Southland

Meridian 'flooding my family farm' video

Looking out over the Hollyburn creek which has been flooded by water from the Waiau river.

Every time Meridian Energy releases the Manapouri dam, Thomas O'Brien loses another chunk of farmland.

Family 'wrecked' as search suspended

Police are still appealing for sightings of missing Dunedin man Stephen Lowe.

The search for missing man Stephen Lowe has been suspended.

And then there were four

Mark Patterson: secure at 7th.

Southland will have four MPs. How much influence is that?

South's election night

It was all smiles for Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie, pictured here with her husband Mark Billcliff.

Invercargill will have two MPs in Parliament, Labour's Liz Craig and National's Sarah Dowie.

Ad Feedback