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Housing NZ refuses to allow solution to overcrowding problem

4 September 2012

Housing NZ refuses to allow solution to overcrowding problem

Following protests that 3 bedroom state houses were being kept empty, Housing New Zealand South Auckland manager Denise Fink said houses were empty because of the oversupply of three-bedroom homes in Papakura.

"Most of our demand is for large, four-plus-bedroom homes, or smaller one- and two-bedroom properties. We currently have too many older, three-bedroom homes in Papakura that we don't have the demand for, which is why we have some vacant properties in the area. We are actively working to allocate vacant Papakura properties to families on the waiting list; however, very few need three-bedroom homes."

This is not just a problem for Papakura. A report prepared by the Housing Shareholders Advisory Group showed that there is an oversupply of 3 bedroom state houses throughout New Zealand. Despite this, Housing NZ refusing to allow a solution that can temporarily turn a three bedroom house into a much needed four bedroom one.

RoomMate Cabins is a nation wide supplier of cabins or sleepouts that are rented as temporary bedrooms and offices. Housing NZ has a blanket policy of not allowing additional structures on their property, even if it is only temporary until a more permanent solution can be found.

One RoomMate franchisee recently had to remove a cabin that had been hired by state house tenants for three years to solve the overcrowding problem they had with two adults and five children in a three bedroom state house. The tenants were funding the cabin rental and it meant that they did not have to have three children sharing one bedroom. Despite pleading with Housing NZ to keep the cabin, they were told that it was against their tenancy agreement and had to go. When they asked if they could be moved to a larger state house they were told none were available. This family now has to live in an overcrowded and unhealthy house.

Representatives of RoomMate Cabins met with the Housing New Zealand General Manager of Asset Portfolio Group to discuss the overcrowding problem and explain their solution.

The HNZ representative refused to acknowledge that a problem even existed, saying that if any State House Tenant was living in over crowded conditions then they would be moved to more suitable accommodation. When it was put to him that this suitable accommodation wasn’t available, the HNZ Representative said that in that case they would build them a suitable home.

RoomMate Franchisor, Dennis Trotter says that “this response is contrary to all available evidence. People are living in over crowded conditions or not even getting access to housing while three bedroom state houses remain empty. RoomMate cabins are fully Compliant with the NZ Building Code, are a good size, well insulted and warm. They are a flexible way to turn unwanted three bedroom state houses into high demand four bedroom state houses. They offer flexibility, so that when a four bedroom house is available or built, then the cabin can be returned. We just don’t understand why Housing New Zealand is against such a solution.”


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