Corrections Minister Anne Tolley and Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith have welcomed the completed refurbishment of the first four earthquake-damaged red zone houses in Christchurch, undertaken as part of a joint initiative between the Department of Corrections and Housing New Zealand (HNZ) and officially opened today by the Prime Minister.
“These houses, which have been transported to a site in Aranui, are the first of the 150 damaged in the Canterbury earthquakes that will be refurbished by prisoners and community offenders at the Rolleston Prison Construction Yards over the next five years. This innovative partnership between Corrections and HNZ helps prisoners and offenders to gain skills and qualifications while also contributing to the rebuild,” Mrs Tolley says.
“We don’t want these offenders creating more victims and committing more crimes, and if they have skills and employment experience they have an increased chance of turning their lives around.”
The joint initiative will see 30 red zone houses repaired and refitted each year and will involve more than 400 prisoners and offenders working in areas such as carpentry, plastering, painting and decorating. The houses will be relocated to HNZ properties in the Canterbury region once fully repaired.
“Each of the four two-bedroom houses has undergone extensive work, including new insulation, carpets, kitchens and bathrooms, and will be fully tenanted by the end of next week. They will be warm and dry homes for families in need and illustrate how this project is not just about rebuilding houses,” Dr Smith says.
“The housing challenge in Christchurch is huge, with 95 per cent of HNZ houses damaged in the earthquakes. This means we need to take action on every front. This initiative is part of HNZ’s $1.2 billion investment in Christchurch, which includes the repair of 5000 houses and the construction of 700 new ones by the end of 2015. We also have a wider programme of work underway, through the Christchurch Housing Accord, the temporary accommodation villages, the Canterbury Earthquake Temporary Accommodation Service, the private sector partnerships for worker accommodation, the Land Use Recovery Plan and the Central City Development Plan.
“This Corrections and HNZ initiative is just a small part of our housing response to the Christchurch earthquakes, but it is one of the most positive and innovative. It’s about rebuilding homes but also rebuilding lives by equipping ex-offenders with the skills to get a job and further assist with the rebuild.”