Demolition and removal of more state housing units in Napier has started despite opposition and concerns that a shortage of accommodation for lower-income families is forcing some to live in garages or in overcrowded conditions with other families.
The demolition started on Monday when contractors moved into two two-storey, twin-unit properties on the corners of Bledisloe Rd and Darwin Cr, Maraenui.
They are among more than 60 untenanted Housing New Zealand dwellings in the area - about 5 per cent of all Maraenui housing. Some of the dwellings have been vacant for more than a year, the longest for almost 15 months.
HNZ asset development general manager Sean Bignell said the units had been "difficult to tenant", and no one had been evicted, although some tenants had been relocated to better quality housing.
He said five blocks, containing 16 of the dwellings, had been sold for removal over the next few months - but not "to the prison", which was one rumour on the streets in the area yesterday.
Asked what would be happening to the sites, he said: "HNZ is committed to redeveloping state housing in Maraenui to achieve a better balance and enable access to housing that is actually required."
He said it was anticipated the empty sites would be redeveloped, but no time frame had been established.
"We are actively encouraging opportunities for community housing providers to be established in the area, and working with private developers to create a more viable mix, including opportunities for affordable or entry-level home ownership."
He said no HNZ properties in the area had been sold in the last year, no agreements had yet been reached with community housing providers and no HNZ properties were being managed as rentals by private sector operators.
Earlier this year, HNZ bought seven new two-bedroom units in Nuffield Ave, Marewa, and is planning 18 new state houses in nearby Kettle Cr, from where several older houses were removed about four years ago.