The Ministers respond to the Christchurch housing crisis…

Last month, I wrote to the Ministers for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, Social Development and Housing asking what they proposed to do about the lack of affordable housing in Christchurch, and giving them a few suggestions. Here is what they had to say…


Dear Holly,

Thank you for your letter dated 5 April 2012 regarding affordable housing in Christchurch. I have outlined the Government’s responses to this issue below.

The Canterbury Earthquake Temporary Accommodation Service (CETAS) is a joint service provided by the Ministry of Social Development and the Department of Building and Housing. It provides:

  • a matching and placement service into appropriate temporary accommodation
  • financial assistance for additional accommodation costs
  • social wellbeing coordination for earthquake affected households

Since April 2011 the CETAS team has dealt with over 1800 people who have asked what to do about housing and at present is helping over 300 households needing temporary accommodation. The team looks to the private rental market first, and has assisted more than 500 households into accommodation there.

As you are aware, the second option is for CETAS to place people in temporary villages in Linwood Park and Kaiapoi and soon at the new village at Rawhiti Domain. The existing parks are being well-used, with 71 families having stayed before shifting back into repaired homes. The average time in residence is 12 weeks.

Providing affordable long-term accommodation for people in Christchurch is a key policy issue that officials at the Department of Building and Housing and officials from the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority are tasked to investigate and to inform relevant Ministers. The Minister of Earthquake Recovery and I have also asked Housing New Zealand Corporation to accelerate the repairs of 500 quake-damaged state houses in Christchurch.

You mention in your letter the influx of tradespeople to begin rebuilding and repairs in Christchurch and the effect this may have on the availability of appropriate housing. I can assure you this matter is being considered by me and other relevant Ministers.

Thank you for taking time to write to me.

Kind regards,

Hon Phil Heatley, Minister of Housing


Dear Ms Walker,

Thank you for your letter which I received on 5 April 2012 about the lack of affordable housing in Christchurch.

I am pleased to read that you have also sent your letter to Hon Phil Heatley, Minister of Housing as he is the appropriate person to address this issue.

I would, however, like to mention that any person having difficulties meeting their accommodation costs can contact Work and Income to test their eligibility to an Accommodation Supplement. This supplement is income and asset tested and is available to people on a benefit and also to those in work.

If you have a specific case, I am happy for you to raise it with my office to consider further.

Thank you for writing.

Yours sincerely,

Hon Paula Bennett, Minister for Social Development


What do you think about their responses?

4 Comments Posted

  1. If only we could build walls, windows, doors, and a roof out of words, then these answers would be of some use. Speaking of the ‘options’ that are already in place clearly doesn’t help as I imagine the motivation for writing the letter was to confront a problem that still exists, regardless of the action previously taken. There is clearly an ongoing problem here in Christchurch.

  2. Last year I wrote to Paula Bennett outlining concerns about things I had heard about WINZ TAS (Temporary Additional Supplement). She basically ignored this in her response and gave me an election year spiel about how great she thought her welfare reforms were. Having said this, I didn’t expect any better from her. In National Party terms she is a fall puppet. She does not come from a monied family nor is she wealthy herself. Therefore, in my opinion, it is unlikely she has much, if any, real influence in National circles.

  3. To be honest Holly, as ministerial responses go they’re not too bad.

    Basically what you expect from Ministerials …

    One interesting omission is the impact of the shift of DBH into the mega-ministry. I understand that this ‘merger’ hasn’t gone down well; which may in turn impact on their ability to perform around the accommodation issue.

Comments are closed.