Repairs to 115 earthquake-damaged Christchurch state houses have been fast-tracked.
This month, The Press revealed 500 quake-damaged state houses were still uninhabitable 14 months after the February 22, 2011, quake despite the city's housing shortage.
The delay prompted Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee to order Housing New Zealand to speed up repairs.
Housing NZ said yesterday repairs to the 115 least-damaged vacant houses had been "accelerated" in the past few days.
A registration of interest for companies keen to take on the work was released on April 5 and closes today.
Work on repairing the houses will begin in May.
Housing NZ asset development general manager Sean Bignell said the houses or their services had been significantly damaged, but it "shouldn't take us too long before the houses are available to let".
Settlement of three large and complex insurance claims was not expected before mid-June, but stage one of the repair programme would start early, he said.
"This is in recognition of the growing pressure on housing in Canterbury," he said.
Houses would be pre-matched with tenants before completion to allow tenants to move in immediately.
The fate of the city's more seriously damaged state houses was undecided.
"We are working closely with our insurers on the future of these vacant houses and whether they will be demolished, rebuilt, repaired or relocated," Bignell said.
"Some uncertainties still remain over building and technical solutions and city-wide infrastructure issues. Ongoing aftershocks also mean that we have to be ready to adapt our plans."
Tenants Protection Association manager Helen Gatonyi said the plan was encouraging.
"That's going to help a few people, but it still leaves a whole lot of other people without many options. It's a step in the right direction," she said.