Christchurch housing 'worst it's ever been'

By Shelley Robinson

Earthquake damaged houses in Locksley Ave, Dallington. Photo / APN
Earthquake damaged houses in Locksley Ave, Dallington. Photo / APN

The housing situation in Christchurch is now the worst it has ever been, forcing some families to squat in empty red zone houses.

People being forced out of rental accommodation because of earthquake repairs can now not afford alternative accommodation, welfare agencies say.

Said Christchurch City Missioner Michael Gorman: "I've never ever known it (housing situation) to be like this. It is the worst it has ever been. Usually there is always hope but now it feels as if there is no hope left out there.''

Mr Gorman said squatting in red-zoned houses was not unusual for the homeless - but he was now aware of families who were moving into abandoned houses.

Mr Gorman said a mother with two teenagers was squatting in a Bexley red-zoned house because they could not afford to rent a home.

They been previously been in a rented property but had to leave that for earthquake repairs and couldn't find anywhere else affordable.

A security firm working for the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority found the family when patrolling the area.

Mr Gorman became aware of the situation when the family went to the City Mission for food.

A CERA spokesman said they were not aware of any families who had been "formally"evicted from the red-zone but said their security patrols find people squatting or trespassing and "move them on''.

Christchurch Methodist Mission spokeswoman Mary Richardson said housing situation in the city "continues to shock "her.

"It just continues to shock me the level of homelessness or even just the housing issue. People are living on the street but it is also the living in garages or living in a car up a drive because there is no room in the house, but you can still use the toilet,'' she said.

Labour's housing spokesman Phil Twyford said the situation is predicted to get worse saying the Government's "hands-off approach "was producing "unnecessary hardship''.

"Around 80,000 homes are not yet repaired and the occupants will need temporary accommodation. There are another 15-30,000 temporary workers that will have to be housed, as well as another 4000 homes needed just to accommodate the population increase over the next four years.''

But Housing Minister Nick Smith said the Government was committed to solving the housing crisis but said there was no "silver bullet''.

He said in his experience in Government portfolios "people always want more "and this was no different.

"Rents are still significantly less to what they are in Auckland,'' he said.

- CHRISTCHURCH STAR

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