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Friday, March 11, 2011

Mobile homes to house Christchurch's displaced

Mobile homes to house Christchurch's displaced

Last updated 05:00 10/03/2011
Hundreds of mobile homes will arrive in Christchurch next week as the city gears up to house potentially thousands made homeless by the earthquake.

Supply of temporary housing exceeds demand at the moment but officials expect a surge of requests as schools reopen and jobs are restored.

Housing Minister Phil Heatley said 300 mobile homes would arrive next week and another 700 were on the way.

Prime Minister John Key says 10,000 homes will have to be demolished and another 100,000 have been damaged, meaning potentially thousands of people will need temporary housing over the next few years.

Mr Heatley said demand for temporary accommodation was expected to rise over the next couple of weeks as many of the estimated 70,000 people who had left Christchurch over the last two weeks started to return.

The Government said last week temporary housing would be established at the Canterbury Park A&P Showgrounds and Riccarton Racecourse and would have self-contained sewerage and waste systems.

Mr Heatley said contracts would also be taken out on other sites including holiday parks and the Government was looking at "other public land" but he would not say where. One suggestion has been to use green-belt land.

"We are looking at public areas that do have facilities to a degree such as electricity and that type of thing," he said.

The Government has also been negotiating with private landowners but Mr Heatley said it was important land was kept aside for building longer term accommodation.

Some suburbs have been so badly damaged they may have to be abandoned.

But Mr Heatley said he also had to guard against temporary housing "ghettos" springing up.

"That's why we are making it very clear that our expectation is that people will find their own way in terms of temporary accommodation – that we'll simply step into the breach where people are unable to do that.

"We're conscious of the whole issue of not creating ghettos. We also don't want to lock up land in temporary housing where more permanent housing will be suited."

The Government has said it will charge rent for any temporary housing set up.

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