Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

New housing development in Auckland - but buildings could be removed in 7 years

The Government has announced a new housing development in Auckland. New Zealand Herald file photo by Greg Bowker.
The Government has announced a new housing development in Auckland. New Zealand Herald file photo by Greg Bowker.

Auckland land earmarked for a school will be turned into a 51-home development by February - and the homes will be carted off when a school is needed.

The vacant 1.6ha site at Luke St in Otahuhu is owned by the Ministry of Education and still earmarked for a school when population growth demands it.

In the meantime it will house 27 two-bedroom, seven three-bedroom and 17 four-bedroom homes for families on the social housing register.

People who will live in the homes temporarily until they can move into permanent accommodation. It's anticipated that each family will stay on average for 12 weeks, and a maximum of 24 weeks.

We're starting to see the tide turn with Government being proactive. Let's get on to the next stage and build more permanent social and affordable housing.
Scott Figenshow, Community Housing Aotearoa

The Government is trying to cope with increasing demand for emergency and social housing in Auckland.

Media reports have highlighted a number of people living in cars and garages, and Labour is calling for a State of Emergency to be declared over the housing crisis.

Speaking to the National Maori Housing Conference in Tauranga today, Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett said the land had been leased to Housing New Zealand, and tenants would likely move in by the end of next February.

"The resource consent was lodged this week and work will begin shortly. The homes will be built so that they can be easily moved later.

"A community provider will be contracted to manage the site and offer wraparound services to tenants."

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett.
Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett.

The site is bare land and across the road from private homes. On one side is an estuary, and on the other a light industrial area.

The houses will stay there for at least seven years.

Scott Figenshow, chief executive of Community Housing Aotearoa, said today's announcement was welcome, but more permanent affordable homes were also needed.

"The average length of stay in emergency housing is still seven months - that's still too long for families who've had their lives disrupted. Let's get on to the next stage and build more permanent social and affordable housing.

"We're starting to see the tide turn with Government being proactive. We encourage them to take the quantum leap and announce a commitment to a 10-year pipeline of funding to deliver housing for 50,000 more New Zealanders."

Labour's housing spokesman Phil Twyford has called for the Government to declare a State of Emergency over the nation's housing crisis.

Responding to today's announcement, Twyford said indpendent University of Otago research estimated the number of people living without shelter at 4200.

"The Government isn't even touching one-fifth of the problem. They have been dithering all winter, leaving marae and local charities to pick up the pieces."

Housing New Zealand last month bought the 10-unit Cimarron Motel in Waterview Rd, Takanini, to make more emergency housing available in Auckland.

The motel was already being used for long-stay accommodation, and long-term tenants have been told they had to move out once their leases expired.

This year's Budget put aside $100 million to buy surplus Crown land for housing, including $41.1 million for 3000 emergency housing places a year.

Many of the 3000 places are already provided by organisations such as the Salvation Army, so are not new. But Bennett said providers had told her they would face closure without the new government funding.

Grants for new services include $342,000 to fund 73 families and individuals at Manurewa Marae, and $282,000 for Kaitaia-based He Korowai Trust, which has bought the old Kaitaia Hotel and refurbished 35 rooms for the homeless.

- NZ Herald

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