Three-bedroom units house one

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 05:00 20/12/2013

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Many three-bedroom state housing units have only one person living in them and are "totally under-utilised", Housing New Zealand's chief executive says.

Glen Sowry said in Christchurch yesterday that the Land Use Recovery Plan (LURP) for greater Christchurch would allow HNZ to use its land "more efficiently and more effectively".

As part of its repair programme, it had committed to building 700 homes across the city by the end of 2015.

"But instead of the traditional three-bedroom home on a big section, which is quite unnecessary, we're going to build more one and two-bedroom homes to get the most out of our land holdings."

The LURP allowed for more intense housing development in certain areas of the city without the need to seek costly and time-consuming resource consent.

"We're not talking about cramming people in though . . . but a lot of units are totally under-utilised."

He said HNZ did not have the right to ask tenants to share a house with other people. "But if they offered to do that . . . I'm sure we would accommodate that but so far we haven't had any volunteers."

About 95 per cent of its stock suffered some form of damage in the earthquakes, with 550 houses wiped out. HNZ has vowed to finish all repairs by the end of 2015.

Sowry said MWH New Zealand would lead the minor repairs programme - for properties with about $40,000 worth of damage - and a project manager for the major repairs would be announced early next year.

About 900 properties - mostly on Technical Category 2 and 3 land across the city - fell under the major repairs category as they required individual foundation solutions.

Sowry said the goals meant workers needed to repair a house every hour and build a new home every six or seven hours.

"When you put it like that, they really are extraordinarily ambitious targets . . . but we understand the intense pressure on the housing system and we're working as hard as we can to achieve these goals."

He said the number of people on the HNZ waiting list had "increased quite a bit" in the last couple of months."

About 150 people were currently classified as "at risk", or priority A, and last month that number reached 176.

He said units were "never kept untenanted unless they need to be".

Meanwhile, hundreds of red-zoned homes would be shifted to Rolleston Prison and repaired by inmates before being relocated to HNZ sites around the city.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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