More social housing blocks may be shut

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 05:00 31/08/2012

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Earthquake damage has already forced the closure of two Christchurch City Council-owned social housing complexes and more than 600 blocks are still waiting on engineering evaluations.

The council announced the partial closure of Brougham Village, its 89-unit social housing complex in Waltham, this month. Residents were given seven days to accept a council offer of accommodation and to move.

In June, the Reg Stilwell Pl complex in New Brighton had to close after failing a detailed engineering evaluation. The council said only 36 people were affected by the Brougham Village closure but that did not include other people living in the units, including children and partners.

About 427 social housing units across the city have been closed because of quake damage or risk.

Detailed engineering evaluations were still required on 599 housing blocks across more than 70 complexes.

The council had prioritised high-risk complexes, such as Aorangi and Cecil courts, and the next bout of the engineering evaluation results were due back in October.

The report showed engineering reports on social housing complexes would not be finished until mid-2014.

Repairs to inner-city Airedale Courts were urgently needed to boost capacity, a council report said. Out of Airedale's 161 units, 62 were closed because of health and safety risks or quake damage.

Aimi Amano said her petrol costs had "more than doubled" since she and her 6-year-old son left Brougham Village.

Amano was among the 10 tenants who accepted accommodation offers at Airedale Courts in Conference St.

"Shannon [her son] goes to Opawa School and I don't really want to move him, so we have to drive to the other side of town and I have to drop him off before 8.30am so I can get to my English-language course," she said.

She said the rent was $40 more a week than at Brougham Village.

"I don't really like the location but the house is much nicer than Brougham Village."

Former Brougham Village resident Peter Curtis said he and 8-year-old son Jake had "somehow managed to land on our feet".

They were offered a two-bedroom unit at Airedale, but Curtis asked the council for another option.

"I didn't want to be in a multi-storey complex that doesn't have a lot around it, no schools and things like that," he said.

They were now living in a social housing complex in Linwood, and Jake had moved from Waltham School to Bromley School. "It was hard at first and on his last day at Waltham the kids were crying and he was crying and by the time we got to the school gate to leave I was crying, but he's really happy at Bromley and he's fitting in well."

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Curtis said he was glad the council had managed to provide "more-appropriate" accommodation.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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