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$7.45 Million For Substandard Housing

Housing in Northland, East Cape and Eastern Bay of Plenty is to get a $7.45 million boost, Housing Minister Mark Gosche announced in Whangarei today.

The funding is targeted at substandard housing in these areas and includes:

 Special Housing Action Zones (SHAZ)– increasing the number of suspensory loans available for essential repairs to run-down homes ($5.7 million over three years)
 A four year pilot programme aimed at helping community-based housing groups devise and deliver home improvement services for designated rural areas ($1.4 million over four years)
 30,000 extra smoke alarms for at-risk houses ($350,000 this financial year).

“Northland, East Cape and Eastern Bay of Plenty all have real housing needs. These initiatives are the result of the government working with the local community to help meet those needs.”

Mr Gosche said that the SHAZ programme also provides low interest bridging finance for community groups wanting to build homes in areas of high need.

“With this increase in funding Housing New Zealand (HNZ) hopes to make about 130 more suspensory loans available each year for the next three years. This will be for repairs on dwellings that pose immediate health and safety risks.”

“The four year home improvement project zone (HIPZ) scheme aims to halt deterioration in rural houses and improve living conditions for low income households, while at the same time providing employment and training opportunities for local people. “

“Under this HIPZ scheme HNZ and Maori or other community-based housing providers are expected to source inexpensive materials, help whanau access financial assistance and operate a team of skilled workers to assist with home maintenance, repairs and capital upgrades.”

The Fire Service with assistance from HNZ and Task Force Green workers will install the 30,000 fire alarms in affected areas and this work would be supported by a fire safety education programme, Mr Gosche said.

Mr Gosche also announced that in addition to this funding, Housing New Zealand intends to double the number of houses it plans to acquire in Northland, East Coast and the Eastern Bay of Plenty this year, bringing the total this year to 176.

“This means an increase of 78 state houses in Northland, and 98 in the East Cape/Eastern Bay of Plenty.

“Some of these will come from work we are doing with other government agencies, including Transit NZ and the Ministry of Education, to make sure HNZ has the first call on surplus properties these organisations have. For example, we are in the process of acquiring three Ministry of Education houses near Kerikeri.

“These initiatives are on top of other major steps taken by the government in the last year including:

 working with the Department of Conservation to relocate nine Auckland houses to Northland. A tender for this relocation work has now been let few and the houses will to be relocated to Northland in the next month.

 opening four new homes at Takou Bay near Kerikeri, the first State houses to be completed on Māori land since 1992.

 surveying approximately 1500 houses to assess the level of poor housing in Northland and the East Coast/Bay of Plenty as the first step towards addressing wider social issues faced by these communities.

“The government is also working on longer term solutions to the problems facing these areas. We recognise that a solution to housing issues cannot be determined in isolation from the other challenges faced by those living in impoverished communities – including access to employment, quality schooling, health and other social services.”

Ends

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