29 May 2014

Housing NZ left tenants 'in the dark'

9:25 am on 29 May 2014

Some Petone residents feel they have been left in the dark by Housing New Zealand's latest demolition plans, despite the agency vowing to improve its consultation processes after they were criticised in a parliamentary report.

The Petone flats.

The Petone flats. Photo: RNZ

The report came after petitions were sent to parliament by Housing New Zealand tenants from Glen Innes in Auckland, Maraenui in Napier and Pomare, further up the Hutt Valley.

The tenants said they were being unfairly pushed out of their homes and Housing New Zealand's consultation processes were inadequate.

In the latest demolitions, 68 units in the Jackson Street development will be torn down, and 26 households will have to leave.

Five buildings, which contain 85 flats in total, will be kept by Housing New Zealand.

One resident, who has 90 days to leave his home, said it's not just the tenants that have not been consulted.

He said no one in the community was asked for input, including those that own private homes on the street.

MP for Hutt South Trevor Mallard said the demolition plans need to be put on hold until the community has a chance to voice its concerns.

"Housing New Zealand appears not to have read the report of the committee, that inquired into their actions in Pomare," he said.

"I think it is very sad because they really botched that one up. People spent a lot of time looking at how it could have been handled better and it has just been ignored."

The Hutt Union and Community Health Service is located right next to the flats that are being demolished.

Its manager, Sally Nicholls, said the only consultation they have had is when Housing New Zealand told them last week that tenants had been issued 90 day notices.

Ms Nicholls said Housing New Zealand did not consult any of the stakeholders who work in the Petone area.

She said the Hutt Union and Community Health Service have three main concerns.

"One, the fact they haven't learnt anything from the experience in Pomare, which is terrible. Secondly, for the tenants who are relocating. And thirdly just for the loss of housing."

Housing New Zealand said all of the tenants that have been issued with 90 day notices are being helped into other accommodation.

It said most tenants will be moved to other housing in the area, but some are leaving the area by choice.

Its chief executive Glen Sowry says it's had one-on-one meetings with tenants and managers. Mr Sowry says it has been able to contact all but two units in Petone.

No date has yet been set for the demolition to start.