14 Jun 2018

Whangarei neighbours oppose state homes project

From Morning Report, 6:16 am on 14 June 2018

Despite the growing homelessness crisis in Whangarei, Housing New Zealand's first social housing project in years is running into opposition from people who don't want it next door. Housing NZ has just bought three hectares of unused Ministry of Education land in the high-value suburb of Maunu, for $1.3 million. That's caused some consternation in the area as locals have always assumed the pleasant green space was part of the council's Puriri Park. Housing New Zealand says it's an ideal spot to build between 40 and 60 houses, making a big dent in the Whangarei social housing register which has 170 families and individuals on the waiting list. And it says state house tenants are just as entitled as anyone else to pleasant surroundings, and good schools. But Maunu residents are upset they weren't consulted about the plan, and the Whangarei MP Shane Reti hosted a recent public meeting on the plan. He told RNZ Northland reporter Lois Williams, residents made some cogent points - but Housing NZ was not negotiable. Housing New Zealand says it will only build on half the space, leaving the rest in native bush. It says it will ensure the state homes will be a good fit with their surroundings, and it will be back to Maunu with the design work to show the neighbours once it's complete.