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Monday, 31 January 2011

Inner city rental accommodation

Mayor Bob Parker is promoting the idea that vacant land within the inner city be used to provide accommodation for those dislocated by repairs and rebuilding.

As reported by the Press on Saturday (29th), a proposal is to go to the Council in two weeks time looking at options to house folk affected by the earthquake. One of the options involves building, with some urgency, accommodation within the inner city on council owned land.

Bob Parker is quoted by the Press as extolling the virtues of new inner city accommodation, and the boost it would give to the city. Also quoted are others with objections ranging from the politics behind it (the proposed involvement of the private sector) to the practicality of the proposal for families with children or people with pets.

For me three issues arise. The first is the one of practicality. Not everyone with children would find inner city apartments, which are invariably small, suitable for children or extended families. There would be insufficient space for day to day activities, whether they be recreational or domestic, nor would the inner city necessarily be a safe or desirable place for children. Many with companion animals would not want to be parted from them for months, and the prospect of their long term confinement in a cattery or kennels is tantamount to cruelty. And, of course, Gordon would not want his hens left in the care of just anybody (nor would I).

The second is the prospect of building resources being diverted from important reconstruction work (infrastructure and housing). I'd love to see the feasibility study analysis on how this will impact on the rebuilding programme. At this stage, though, it would appear that the idea is only at the conceptual stage - existing only in the minds of the mayor and whoever he has discussed it with.

The third issue is the onset of a sense of deja vu; haven't we heard this inner city living and housing concept being promoted before this? While thinking about the current proposal I have this uncomfortable feeling that some see the earthquake and its aftermath as a opportunity for pursuing non-essential agendas. An opportunity more important than caring for, supporting, and protecting those who have suffered as a result of the earthquake and its aftershocks. Of course the construction of inner city housing is an opportunity for both making a mark and making money.

Perhaps I am creating an injustice. However some in the council (and maybe outside it) are actively against the idea of advocacy support for homeowners. Now, seemingly, the prospect of the homelessness of many thousands of families is becoming a means of pushing an unrelated agenda that has yet to have a thorough airing. These current ideas, ostensibly developed on behalf of homeowner(s), seem designed to be of more benefit to others.

Maybe, when the mayor's proposal is unveiled, its merits will be blindingly obvious. If not, it needs to be opposed as a dangerous diversion.

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