Rent out green-blue homes - councillor

Posted 29 Jun 2012 by MediaStuff Popular
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An alternative to homeless people squatting in abandoned houses has been mooted by a city councillor.

Cr Glenn Livingstone, who recently called a citywide housing summit, said owners of houses classified as green-blue, or technical category 3, should consider offering them as rentals.

His comments come after Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples suggested the city's homeless would be better to squat in abandoned red-zones homes than to sleep in cars.

Livingstone, who is helping to prepare a 100-day housing plan for Christchurch, said Sharples had a point, but the homes he talked about were unihabitable and there was a better way.

"While there is a certain element of 'needs must' in minister Sharples' call to squat in red-zoned homes, the truth of the matter is that by virtue of being zoned red, those homes are uninhabitable,'' he said.

''As has been said by police, squatting in them is both unlawful and unsafe, given that habitability is defined by a home's safety and security."

He said a way ahead was to call for those who had abandoned habitable green-blue homes to offer those homes for rental.

"We have a website being developed which can be used to match up green-blue homes with those looking for accommodation,'' he said.

"This would be a safe and a lawful approach to take. I have had several legal opinions confirming that promoting the letting of green-blue homes is legal. As long as they are habitable, they are suitable for living in.

"The housing situation in Christchurch is marked by affordability, accessibility and habitability issues. Given that the word 'crisis' itself includes describing an unstable situation affecting individuals and the community, we would have to say that we are at the very least in a 'testing time', which is also a definition of crisis." 

The desperation in relation to housing could have given rise to Sharples' comments, he said.

"But promoting squatting in red-zoned homes is to promote the very issue we are trying to alleviate, which is the uninhabitable living conditions many are facing,'' he said.

"A better approach is to work on both medium and short-term solutions, such as promoting alternative accommodation options by making abandoned green-blue homes available."

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