GOVERNMENT

New Christchurch offices for Housing NZ

Thursday 18 October 2012, 6:15PM
By Phil Heatley
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CHRISTCHURCH

Housing New Zealand’s new offices in central Christchurch have been officially opened by Housing Minister Phil Heatley.

“This is quite a milestone in the rebuild of Christchurch,” Mr Heatley said.

“It’s important the Corporation’s earthquake recovery team is located in the central city. It’s actually 12 years since the Corporation had a presence in the central city, and its return is a key part of the city’s revitalisation.

“These new offices are amongst a whole range of Housing initiatives coming together as part of the Government’s response to Canterbury’s housing issues.

“First, I’d like to acknowledge the great progress that HNZC has made repairing its earthquake-damaged houses.

“More than 95 per cent of the Corporation’s housing stock was damaged in the three major earthquakes, with about 27,000 health and safety works alone. To date 138 of the 212 seriously damaged houses throughout the city have been repaired. This is well on track to meeting the Corporation’s deadline to repair all 212 houses by the end of this month.

“This is a significant achievement and I congratulate the Corporation.”

Social Allocation System

The Government has also decided to suspend elements of the Social Allocation System – the “ability to access and sustain alternative housing” aspect of Housing New Zealand’s eligibility criteria in Christchurch.

“This means that individuals or families who meet all other eligibility criteria won’t have to provide evidence they can’t access alternative housing,” Mr Heatley said.

“Having to provide this evidence has placed additional stress on families already in difficult circumstances. When the housing market down here is clearly so unique and challenging, these requirements are not as applicable.”

Redevelopment programme

Over the next 18 months the Corporation plans to build 200-350 new houses on land it owns around Christchurch, the Minister said.

The new homes will include state rentals, and houses suitable for first-home buyers and others needing affordable housing, including community housing providers. Construction of the first homes through this programme is expected to start in mid to late 2013.

Repairing foundations

The Minister also announced a series of trials to find quicker and more affordable options for repairing property foundations.

Several thousand of the Corporation’s houses are on land that has been zoned TC2 and TC3, and it will provide a selection of houses on TC3 land for the trials, to start within the next two months.

“The results will be available to the wider community and industry. It’s a simple but effective way of assisting many others, as well as the Corporation’s own repair and rebuild programme,” he said.

“The earthquake devastation has given us a chance to rethink our approach to building social housing in Canterbury.

“Lots of people have different needs now, and we have to find better ways of housing them while making the best use of our land,” he said.