Symonds Street social housing sold for a song

Housing NZ must explain why it practically gave away desperately needed social housing on Symonds Street in central Auckland, Labour’s Auckland Central-based list MP Jacinda Ardern says.

“Information obtained by Labour under the Official Information Act shows the 45-unit apartment block built in 1948 has been sold to Auckland University for $2.5 million. The land alone was valued by the Auckland Council at $7.6 million.

“Housing NZ moved its tenants out in August 2013 because of leaks and falling masonry. It had initially committed to $24.4 million worth of repairs but decided – because of the limitations of the building being a historic place – refurbishing the building was too difficult. 

“The argument that it wasn't economical to retain the building for accommodation is undermined by the fact that it has been brought for that very purpose by Auckland University. 

“It will be particularly disappointing for the tenants forced to move out that Auckland University is prepared to renovate the building to make it safe enough for its students when Housing NZ wasn’t prepared to do the same for them. 

“We have a shortage of social housing in central Auckland – the fact HNZ made the decision to sell the block of flats is one thing, but to sell it for such a ridiculous price is another issue entirely. This represents a bad deal for taxpayers no matter how you cut it,” Jacinda Ardern says.