Housing fixes my priority - Johanson

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee was right in saying the Christchurch City Council needs to work faster to repair quake-damaged social housing units, a councillor says.

Cr Yani Johanson, who is chairman of the council committee that oversees social housing, said the council had acted too slowly and needed to do more.

Brownlee last week slammed the council for its failure to fix quake-damaged social housing units despite a multimillion-dollar payout from the Earthquake Commission.

"They gave me an assurance they were on to it and it was going to be a priority for the staff to deliver. Clearly it isn't," he said.

"I'm not in the business of throwing stones, but I do think it is a little bit off that they end up sitting on their backsides for nine months."

The council - the second-biggest landlord in the country - received a $21 million interim payout from the commission last April so it could begin repairing damage to its housing units. So far it has repaired only five units.

Housing New Zealand has repaired 230 of its hardest-hit properties.

Brownlee's attack on the council was sparked by its announcement that it was closing another 31 housing units because of concerns about their structural strength. The closures bring the number of council housing units out of action because of quake damage to about 470.

Johanson said that with more closures likely, it was vital that the council pushed harder to repair its damaged housing stock.

"It's certainly going to be my priority as chair of that committee. When we've got the money from the Government, the worst thing we can do is sit there and leave it in the bank," he said.

Mayor Bob Parker said last week that the council was doing its best.

"On the basis of a quick and shallow analysis, it does not look like much has happened, but I'm afraid the reality is quite different to that," he said.

The Press