31 Jul 2012

Housing NZ working to avoid new delays - Heatley

11:07 pm on 31 July 2012

The Housing Minister, Phil Heatley, says Housing New Zealand has assured him it is working to avoid further lengthy delays in its call service when it switches to a new computer system.

The corporation is warning that waiting times at its 0800 contact centres are likely to increase again when it switches to a new $92 million computer system on Wednesday.

The corporation came under fire earlier this year when it closed several offices and told people to call an 0800 number instead to get a more efficient response. The changes resulted in waiting times of up to an hour before calls were answered.

Housing New Zealand's general manager Philippa Jones says similar waiting times are expected when the new computer system goes live this week.

Ms Jones says the new system focuses on meeting tenants' needs rather than just the letting and maintenance of properties.

Housing New Zealand has contracted an extra 20 people to handle calls, and another 100 to manage the transition.

Mr Heatley says the corporation has told him it will take four to six weeks to bed in the new system but it has good support staff in place to help.

"Ultimately it's going to be a better system for everyone."

Mr Heatley says waiting times to the 0800 service have significantly improved over the past two months.

Emergency housing group worried

Earlier a South Auckland emergency housing provider, Monte Cecilia, expressed concern that the switch could put further pressure on its services.

A Monte Cecilia housing executive, David Zussman, says when the 0800 number was first launched in April, the organisation experienced a huge increase in the number of families seeking assistance.