Holly Walker

The Ministers respond to the Christchurch housing crisis…

by Holly Walker

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…

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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

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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

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What do you think about their responses?