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Social housing is Chch Council's shame - Brownlee

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

With the nights getting colder and winter on the doorstep Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says it’s time for the Christchurch City Council to pick up the pace and rapidly fix more of its social housing units.

"We all know the housing market in greater Christchurch is under degrees of pressure, no more so than in the area of low income rentals," Mr Brownlee says.

"The Government has stepped up by properly resourcing Housing NZ and riding them hard to repair and re-let its most damaged stock.

"Housing NZ has spent $19 million fixing and re-tenanting 212 of its worst damaged properties, and a further 95 will be repaired and re-tenanted before June.

"This is on top of urgent health and safety repairs to over 5000 Housing NZ properties and the programme underway to build a further 700 new state houses," Mr Brownlee says.

"Over the same period we’ve had a woeful response from Christchurch City, led by its Community, Recreation and Culture Committee chairman responsible for overseeing social housing, Yani Johanson.

"Time and again we’ve had the council putting up the straw man argument that Christchurch City’s EQC settlement for its damaged social housing hasn’t been finalised.

"But the fact is that whether any minor amendment to the final sum occurs, the Government fast-tracked a payment of $21 million to Christchurch City from EQC in April last year so that it could urgently begin repairing the 280 social housing units closed by damage following the February 2011 earthquake. Since then dozens more units have closed as the council has meandered its way through the damage assessment process.

"Councillor Johanson himself said in early February ‘when we’ve got the money from the Government, the worst thing we can do is sit there and leave it in the bank.’"

"By November 2012 Christchurch City had managed to repair four properties, by January it was five, and by mid-February it was six.

"The council’s latest report says it’s closed 327 social housing units, has still only repaired and re-let six, and plans to have a grand total of 70 repaired by Christmas 2013.

"That will be a mere 21 per cent of damaged properties repaired and re-let almost three years after the event that caused the damage - and the council calls this a ‘ramped up’ repair process.

"Councillor Johanson said speeding up the repair and re-letting of these properties would be his priority, but the numbers speak for themselves. Perhaps it’s time someone with a bit of can-do attitude relieved Councillor Johanson of this burden," Mr Brownlee says.

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