Catherine Gaffaney is a general reporter based in Auckland.

Babies living in P contaminated houses

Minister for social housing Paula Bennett. Photo / File
Minister for social housing Paula Bennett. Photo / File

Solo mothers with young children are among tenants at a Christchurch state housing development where almost a quarter of homes have been contaminated with methamphetamine in the past nine months.

The new development of 19 houses was built in June last year.

Two tenants have been evicted after tests returned positive for methamphetamine and two more evictions are underway.

In most cases, the tenants were solo mothers with small children, including four toddlers under two.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett said the high rate of methamphetamine was "particularly distressing".

"Any situation where methamphetamine use has been found in social housing is unacceptable, but the number of young children in this case makes it particularly distressing," she said.

Almost 400 Housing New Zealand properties are uninhabitable as a result of P, according to the most recent figures.

Most contaminations are a result of P use, rather than the houses being used as P labs.

In the last six months alone, Housing New Zealand has spent $5.8 million on testing and remediation.

"Housing New Zealand is taking a much stricter approach to detecting and dealing with serious drug use in its properties," Mrs Bennett said.

"Frontline staff are better trained to look out for contamination, use and manufacturing. If a property is found to be contaminated, the tenancy will be terminated."

Testing properties for methamphetamine and cleaning contaminated ones was costly and time-consuming, she said.

"When we have hundreds of people waiting for social housing, it's disappointing people break the law and deprive others of homes."

- NZ Herald

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