More than 40 Housing New Zealand families in Porirua have to be relocated before the end of the year because their buildings are substantially earthquake-prone.
And the agency warns there will be more. Structures with three or more units and two or more storeys high have been assessed a high risk of failure.
The 44 affected buildings, split between east Porirua and Titahi Bay, are below 20 per cent of the building code.
HNZ says safety comes first, giving tenants a 90-day notice of relocation.
Housing New Zealand staff were invited to a meeting with residents at Russell School's hall last week, instigated by principal Sose Annandale.
Tenants expressed concerns about being relocated away from their friends, neighbours, schools and support networks.
HNZ project stakeholder manager Hope Simonsen says they know it is a shock for families.
About half the tenants have been sourced new homes within Porirua "so far", she says.
"If people want to stay in the area, with children at school, we will do our very very best to find a house in that area.
"There's a lot of people to move, we're trying to match people as best we can."
She says it was too early to know if individual houses would be fixed or destroyed.
Asked if people could return to a fixed house, she says they would prefer to move tenants just once, but HNZ pays for relocation costs.
She says 767 houses in New Zealand, containing 4000 tenants, are potentially earthquake-prone.
Recently 61 homes in the Hutt Valley were issued 90-day notices.
Principal Sose Annandale is not concerned for her school's roll, but her children were upset about moving.
"We talk about a village, this large family connection. All these people aren't going to have the same support networks.
"Ninety-day notices, just before Christmas, with all those pressures as well."
Cannons Creek resident Kiri Higgs says she was "dumbstruck" when she received her 90-day notice.
Housing New Zealand came to her house the same day for a meeting.
"It was the last thing I expected.
"My husband wasn't home and I didn't know how to deal with it."
She has lived at her address for six years and says she is leaving a neighbourhood where everyone knows each other.
"They have been family when my family haven't been here. It's ripping it all apart."
She says HNZ has found her another house, better than her existing one.
"It has worked out, but you want everyone to have the same treatment."
- Porirua News