Neighbours pleased as state house 'ghetto' falls

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A cluster of state houses described by neighbours as a "ghetto" are being removed from a Hawke's Bay suburb.

Ten three-bedroom units in Kauri Place, Mahora - including one where a P-lab exploded in 2004 - and four units in Kiwi Lane, Camberley, were in the process of being demolished or removed.

Housing New Zealand Corporation asset development general manager Sean Bignell said the properties had long been vacant, were difficult to tenant and had started attracting vandals.

"The majority of these properties have been vacant for some time as they have proven very difficult to tenant," he said.

"This is for a number of reasons including the size, age and low number of tenants that require this type of property.

"The properties were built in 1959 and because of their age they are not as warm and dry as some of our more modern properties. Because of this we needed to consider other options for the properties as vacant housing can attract vandalism as was the case with these properties."

However, Kauri Place neighbours spoken to by Hawke's Bay Today, who declined to be named, said the houses were a hotbed of criminal activity.

One woman was "happy to see the houses go" because tenants had a history of serious domestic violence and manufacturing methamphetamine.

In 2004, a P-lab explosion in one of the units caused a fire and severe burns to the "cook".

She was concerned the dwellings would be replaced by more of the same.

Mr Bignell said the future of the sites was unknown, but building materials would be recycled and re-used where possible.

"No decisions have yet been made about the future of the sites where the properties have been removed, but some form of redevelopment is likely to occur.

"Where we undertake redevelopment it is not simply about replacing like-with-like as this does not really improve the local housing and community outcomes. Our experience is that it is better to encourage a mixture of private ownership and some social housing if demand supports this."

Their removal would not impact the availability of state housing in the region - there were approximately 3000 state houses in Hawke's Bay, Mr Bignell said.

"We have a number of redevelopments under way in Hawke's Bay including the purchase of seven brand new two-bedroom units in Nuffield Avenue, Napier, earlier this year.

"The new homes are warm, dry and offer better quality of living for the people who now rent them."

Resource consent had also been granted to build 18 new state houses on vacant land in Kettle Crescent, Napier.

More than 500 Maraenui residents recently signed a petition to stop the removal of 60 state housing units in the suburb.

The group Tu Tangata Maraenui believed the accommodation was desperately needed by families who could not wait for redevelopments and public-private partnerships.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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