18 Jul 2012

Govt forced to defend Housing NZ service again

10:03 pm on 18 July 2012

The Government has again been forced to defend changes made at Housing New Zealand, amid allegations gang members are squatting in vacant state homes in Auckland.

In April, Housing New Zealand closed several of its offices to walk-ins, and told people to call an 0800 number instead to get a get a more efficient response.

But the changes resulted in waiting times of up to an hour before calls were answered and claims by opposition parties clients weren't getting the help they needed.

On behalf of Housing Minister Phil Heatley, Maurice Williamson told Parliament on Wednesday Housing New Zealand had made a vast improvement with its 0800 service.

He said the average time to answer a call, for July to date, was 1 minute 54 seconds.

But Labour MP Annette King, questioned whether that was actually the case.

She asked the Minister if he was aware of King Cobra gang members squatting and selling drugs in vacant Housing New Zealand homes in Auckland.

Mr Williamson told the House he hadn't been briefed on the situation.