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Timaru is set to get nine new state houses

Despite waiting lists for social housing in both the Timaru and Mackenzie districts, neither council has plans to build more.

Demand for state housing has more than doubled in Timaru in the past year. The latest figures show the waiting list rose from 12 to 27 from December 2016 to December 2017.

The Government announced plans this month to build nine new state houses in Timaru.

Timaru District Council property manager Matt Ambler said while there was a “huge” demand for council-owned social housing units in Timaru, there were no plans for now to increase the number of council-owned houses in the district.

“We aren’t planning on [doing] anything.”

The council owns 236 units in Timaru, Temuka, Pleasant Point and Pareora, which are rented to individuals or couples, of whom about 70% are elderly residents.

Between 50 and 60 people were on the waiting list for Timaru alone, he said.

In the Mackenzie district, there was also “fair” demand for social housing properties, Mackenzie District Council community facilities manager Garth Nixon said.

There were 10 social housing units in the district, which low-income residents over 65 were eligible to rent, he said.

While there was only one state house in the entire Mackenzie district and no demand, Mr Nixon supported the state house building plans for Timaru.

Housing New Zealand deputy chief executive Greg Groufsky said the nine new government-owned houses were among 150 being built in 15 regional areas across the country.

The new one or two-bedroom dwellings would add to the 410 state housing properties already in Timaru, he said.

The Ministry of Social Development housing register listed 27 individuals or families as requiring state housing in the Timaru district in December last year.

Eleven people were on the register in the Waitaki district in December 2017, none in Mackenzie, and Waimate was marked “S”, noting that there was a small client base in the district so the data was kept confidential for client privacy.

Waimate District Council regulatory and compliance group manager Sue Kelly said the council owned 27 community housing units, mostly single flats.

She said there were no plans to increase the amount of social housing in the district as there was “limited pressure of demand”.

“We understand that there may be a higher demand than can be met on houses available through Housing New Zealand, though.”

Mr Groufsky said the new state houses in Timaru would be built on vacant land or existing HNZ properties with enough land on which to build multiple units.

“This also means that we’re able to increase our housing stock more quickly and get people into new homes,” he said.

HNZ hoped to have the first lot of homes ready for clients to move into by the middle of this year, he said.