Housing New Zealand Corporation is well advanced with nine new compact emergency houses on a West Auckland site, but one critic says they are so frighteningly small that they appear like prison cells. A neighbour asked if they were storage sheds.
Corporation business, innovation and development general manager Andrew Booker said the dwellings were 28sq m but the neighbour said he was surprised at their arrival and appearance and wondered if people could live there.
"These buildings are disgustingly cheap, small, lacking in windows and appear to have only one door. The foundations are low cost and very simple," the neighbour said. Another neighbour compared them to prison cells or working men's huts.
But Booker said the homes at 290-292 Great North Rd were being built to meet market demand and were for the Ministry of Social Development's transitional housing programme, designed to meet a critical need.
"The transportable dwellings are being built on Housing New Zealand land and will be in place for up to three years. We expect to finish the development by mid-February," Booker said.
The places would be functional, warm, dry, fully carpeted, insulated and double glazed. Each unit has a kitchen and bathroom and will be fully furnished. They are designed for one person to live there on a short-term basis, he said.
Booker encouraged those criticising the places to suspend their judgment, showing off compact places built elsewhere in Auckland, although he said the Henderson places were not exactly the same.
"The surrounding area will be landscaped and there will also be a communal area for the people living there. The facility will be utilised as transitional housing," he said of the Henderson site. "It's expected that people will stay in the homes for an average of 12 weeks or longer if required," he said.
"While staying, they'll receive a range of support from provider Vision West to help them get in a position to secure more permanent housing. They'll continue to receive support for a further three months once they move into more permanent accommodation, such as public housing or the private rental market," he said.
The ministry was working with community providers, the corporation and others to increase the volume and diversify the supply of public housing while continuing to support people in need to lead more independent lives, he stressed.
"At this stage, there are no other sites consented using this type of design. However, Housing New Zealand is using homes that are transportable in the future, at Luke St in Otahuhu, Dominion Rd in Mt Roskill and Opal Dr in Tauranga.
"HNZ is utilising a number of off-site manufacturing processes and technology in its current and future building," Booker said.
The neighbour found it hard to believe the new homes were fit for human habitation.
"I would like to know if these buildings are going to be used to house people. If so, who and for how long? Or are they just going to be storage sheds?" he asked.
The 28sq m Henderson homes are a fraction of the 149sq m average size Kiwi home. However, some Auckland apartments are less than 28sq m.