Minister Amy Adams launches inquiry into vacant Housing NZ properties in Cromwell
Social Housing minister Amy Adams has asked Housing New Zealand why two government-owned Cromwell properties have been sitting vacant for almost a year.
Adams, in Queenstown visiting an affordable homes development, said she read Stuff's story last week and asked Housing New Zealand to follow-up on why they had not been tenanted since June last year.
"They have an obligation to place people off the register to meet the requirements of the house," Adams said. "I don't want to see good housing not being utilised if they can be put to use."
Cromwell resident Fiona Sudden said last week she and other members of the neighbourhood were "appalled" that 5 Cornish Pl had sat empty for so long when the Central Otago town had a severe shortage of rental properties meaning people were living in caravans and garages.
Adams asked Housing New Zealand what the "disconnect" was and whether they were being "too descriptive" when trying to place eligible families into the homes.
An example was whether families eligible for two-bedroom homes were not being placed into the three-bedroom Cromwell properties.
Asked if it was good enough the properties had sat vacant for so long, Adams said she didn't "want to make an assessment about whether it was good enough or not" until she had some answers from Housing New Zealand.
Earlier Adams walked the new Shotover Country 44-home affordable housing development along with Queenstown Community Housing Trust members and Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay.
Trust executive officer Julie Scott outlined how "dramatically" the state of housing had changed in the region over the past 18 months.
People leaving Queenstown due to housing affordability had become serious issue, Scott said.
Adams said the reason for her stroll around the development was to better understand the "significant housing issues" and to see how different areas of the country were coping with it.
"My focus is very much on the most vulnerable New Zealander and how we think about their needs.
"I want to see social housing tenants move back up into independent housing.
"That's why it's useful for me to come and see what the pressures are here."
The Queenstown Community Housing Trust was created through the Queenstown Lakes District Council to manage and deliver affordable housing.
Homes in the $15 million 44-lot Shotover Country development had a targeted end value of between $450,000 and $500,000 when work started in 2015.