A Napier street which was all-but emptied of its state-housing during widespread removal and demolition of the aging Crown stock seven to 10 years ago is full again with the opening of 13 new homes this week.
The homes, built by Hawke's Bay Construction and leased from state housing agency Kainga Ora by non-government organisation Emerge Aotearoa, are in Maraenui street Kelvin Pl.
They add to 10 other new homes that were opened about four years ago.
The latest two- to four-bedroom homes are initially being used to meet what the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development says is an urgent need for transitional housing.
Designed for family living, they could be accommodating more than 50 people by the end of this week, all coming direct from emergency motel accommodation and including children attending schools in the area.
It's part of a now rapidly-advancing programme in the area, in which nine homes were completed earlier this year off Bledisloe Rd. A further 11 currently being built in Percy Spiller Ave are expected to be in use by the end of the year. Demolition has recently started clearing land for similar development in neighbouring Marewa South.
Special features of the Kelvin Pl housing are the efforts that have been made to place families connected with the area, especially those with children at Richmond or Maraenui Bi-Lingual schools, while Emerge Aotearoa, with its "skilled navigators", will be in weekly contact with the households helping them get back on their feet.
All 13 homes were blessed about dawn on Friday morning, and Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise and half her 12-member council were on-site on Monday.
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Cr Sally Crown, who edited local Maraenui community newspaper He Ngakau Hou for several years, said the older homes were being removed about the time she first arrived and she's seen the stresses placed on the families.
Pointing to issues she says should be spoken-about in Mental Health Awareness Week, that started on the same day:
"Most of the people are just grateful to have a roof over their heads again, and all they want to is be able to feed the family."
She was most impressed by the steps taken to establish a community, and the amount of green space still available around the homes.
For Emerge Aotearoa central region housing operations manager Moana Paul there was a bit of familiarity, having had family living in Kelvin Pl before the old homes disappeared.
Mayor Wise said she had seen the issues that had developed over the last 10 years, and was pleased with growing numbers of people being accommodated into the new homes.
But she said that with more than 700 people still on the emergency housing register in Napier it is "still a fair way off" before the shortage is resolved.