Inmates refurbish Chch state houses
Wed, 17 Oct 2012 6:11p.m.
By Hamish Clark
Prisoners will be used to fix up state houses that are badly damaged and lying empty in Christchurch’s red zone.
The houses will be shifted to prison land where the criminals will carry out the repairs. The scheme is part of Housing New Zealand’s $1.5 billion rebuilding programme.
A three bedroom state house from Woolston is getting a complete makeover, including new carpet, new cabinets in the kitchen and a brand new roof.
It’s one of 212 Government-owned homes in Christchurch being repaired at a cost of $20 million.
“These aren't $5000 repairs, these are $80,000, $90,000 repairs,” says Housing Minister Phil Heatley.
About 95 percent of the 6000 state houses were damaged during the earthquakes. Now 200 lie empty and in ruin inside the red zone, but a number of them look set to be saved - fixed using cheap prison labour.
Housing New Zealand general manager of asset development Sean Bignell says it is a big saving.
“Our internal costing shows that it basically makes the repair economic, but we are saving nearly 50 percent of the cost of refurbishing, repurposing a house that we might otherwise not been able to do. It is material, it is worthwhile.”
Mr Heatley admits that without the prison training scheme being available, houses in the red zone would be demolished.
“We get to repair a house that we wouldn't normally get to do,” he says. “An inmate gets to learn new skills supervised by a properly qualified new person and that house is relocated probably somewhere in Canterbury.”
But it's the repairs to earthquake-damaged homes that are the most pressing, Arrow project manager Jason Bartram says.
“This will be handed back to Housing New Zealand for occupation by the end of the week.”
There are another 49 big repair jobs still to get started to be completed by the deadline at the end of the month.
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25/10/2012 7:39:59 a.m.
JR Murphy wrote:
I'm of two minds over this, firstly giving inmates something useful and valuable to do is good for them in all ways. HOWEVER
We have large numbers of unemployed people in New Zealand so desperate for work they are becoming mentally ill, are feeling worthless and degraded.
That the government gives the excuse these repairs could only be done because the labour is free - is just creepy. As an employer they shouldn't be able to use slaves - or are they volunteers - I hope they're not disadvantaged if they don't help.
Everybody that can work should be working - isn't it a shame decades of free trade and incompetent leaders have driven our country into the ground.
18/10/2012 10:21:18 a.m.
Hard labour for the prisoners will put plenty of money in the Government insitution instead of creating jobs for the unemployments on a short term contract.
EMMA' the government is having a free ride by having the inmates send out to clean up houses to repairing or maintaning of lawns etc, and this has been around for a while.
Mr. Heatley and the Government are the worses frauds and full of crabs, they are as bad as the lawyer that is imprison for hiring cheap labour from overseas in returned for a New Zealand Citizenship.
Take them to court EMMA and sue the government for redundancy and stop Heatley and his schemes.
18/10/2012 4:27:45 a.m.
gee this makes me laugh my husband got the sack from the prison service for creating new skills for inmates ie panel beating
it was alright for senior staff to damage govt vehicles and have them repaired by inmates all kept hush hush of course but as soon as staff used their vehicles to be serviced by inmates sanctioned by upper management
the hammer came down and over 10 staff were sacked of course the chicken A.... senior manager said he knew nothing about it
and hear this now common knowledge because he was screw..... the then officer in charge of sacking 10 staff
a cunning bas...... is still in the job (had been having his private vehicle serviced by inmates for years) what a bl..... joke
17/10/2012 10:12:00 p.m.
Good job. PD workers could be put to use around every community clear gorse and doing all sorts.
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