Last week the Council announced the closure of the Reg Stilwell Place City Housing complex in New Brighton and staff have been working with 20 residents since then to find alternative housing.
This week’s update is that new units have now been found for most of those residents and anyone who is unable to move this week will be offered alternative temporary accommodation if they need it. This is a hugely difficult time for these residents but Council staff have worked closely with them to look at how they can be re-housed in other Council-owned units across the city.
A detailed engineering evaluation found the buildings in the Reg Stilwell Place complex were below the level the Council has said a building must meet for it to remain open. In recent months, the Council has closed a number of its commercial buildings that are below 34 percent of the New Building Standard and this also applies to our City Housing units. We therefore had no choice but to close the facility to ensure residents were not put at risk in the event of further earthquakes.
Although this is the first time one of the Council’s social housing complexes has closed because of a detailed engineering evaluation, our City Housing staff have good systems in place to allow them to take action immediately. Last week, I visited the Reg Stilwell housing complex with our staff to speak to tenants after the closure announcement. It was good to see that many of the tenants understood that this was not a decision the Council had taken lightly and that it was acting in the interests of their safety. They were also pleased that the Council planned take every step possible to ensure they were not left without homes. On the whole, our housing officers have good relationships with tenants, which undoubtedly has helped during this upsetting time. Staff have also been helping tenants this week to pack up their belongings if they are unable to do so. A Council contractor will help tenants to shift into their new units.
Questions have been asked about how long it has taken for the Council to realise the Reg Stilwell housing complexes must close. The Council had already carried out visual engineering assessments of the buildings in the complex but detailed engineering evaluations, which can take months to complete, are a more intensive assessment that may include a number of techniques such as the removal of wall claddings and ceiling linings to look at damage. The Council is working through this process for 1600 of its buildings and we have prioritised the order of assessments.
It’s important that we carry out comprehensive safety checks on our buildings and that, if we find there are problems, we act on that information. It’s not an easy process and it takes time; the main aim is to ensure we keep Christchurch residents safe in case of future earthquakes and we’ll continue to act responsibly, with this priority in mind.
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Media release around the hosuing issue:
Reg Stilwell Place City Housing tenants to be re-housed
Christchurch City Council has now offered all 20 residents at Reg Stilwell Place alternative rental units following last week's announcement that it was closing the City Housing complex, with the first tenants moving into their new units yesterday.
The Council closed the social housing complex in Brighton last Thursday
14 June after it received the results of a Detailed Engineering Evaluation (DEE) assessment which showed the buildings have a seismic capacity of less than 34 per cent of the New Building Standard (NBS).
Engineers recommended the units should not be occupied.
The Council gave tenants seven days' notice under Section 59 of the Residential Tenancies Act because they are considered to be at risk in the event of future earthquakes or aftershocks. The notice period ends on Friday.
General Manager Community Services Michael Aitken says 18 of the 20 tenants offered new tenancies in Council-owned units across the city have accepted the offer. Two tenants have declined the Council offer of new units and decided to find alternative accommodation themselves.
Since the day the Council told tenants about the closure, City Housing staff have been working with them to look at re-housing options. Tenants have been given assistance to move their belongings if they need it.
Mr Aitken says the Council has appreciated tenants' understanding during this time. "We know this has been a difficult time for tenants but we are pleased to have been able to offer them all alternative units and to work with them to find a solution that suits them all."
Mr Aitken says the Council is carrying out DEE assessments on eight other social housing complexes.
"There is a possibility that we may need to close units in these complexes if they are found to be below 34 percent of the New Building Standard," he says.
"Residents need to be assured, however, that if this occurs the Council will take every step possible to find alternative accommodation for affected tenants. Council staff will work with them to match them to other units owned by the Council or, if necessary, it will work with other agencies in the city who own social housing units to re-house them."
For more information about the Council's Detailed Engineering Evaluations, which are being carried out as part of its Facilities Rebuild Plan project, visit www.ccc.govt.nz/facilitiesrebuild