In Auckland, there are growing calls for local and central government to provide relief to ratepayers whose homes have been deemed uninhabitable.
The number of red-stickered properties across the region has risen to 570 – with 61 people still in refuge shelters without a place to go.
Resident Luci Harrison thought she had her dream home but over the past month, it has been a living nightmare.
“It’s about a 25-metre drop. It’s quite extreme and it just keeps crumbling,” Harrison told Newshub.
The council land bordering Harrison’s central Auckland property has been eating away at her backyard since the January floods, forcing her out of her home altogether.
“I’m a single woman on her own, making an income, paying my way, my mortgage, my rates, my insurance and then we’ve had to pay extra money for moving costs and for renting and living again so it’s been a really challenging time,” she told Newshub.
And with the third instalment of council rates due next Tuesday, she’s written letters calling for “some compassion” to both the Mayor and Prime Minister’s Office – also demanding “red-stickered people be made a priority”.
“We’ve been forced by [the] council to be removed from our land and I feel that we shouldn’t have to pay it until we’re allowed back – we’re not using any facilities,” Harrison said.
But like many homeowners, she still doesn’t know if there will be any exemption from her rate payments.
“You just don’t know who to call, and we still don’t know who to call or what to do,” she said.
“I thought after the Christchurch earthquake there should have been a structure put in place for emergencies like this.”
Auckland Council’s director of regulatory services Craig Hobbs said each rates relief case is treated individually.
“In terms of rates relief, we treat those on an individual basis so we ask people to contact us through our normal channels,” Hobbs said.
Harrison has set up a Facebook page to connect with other people in her position. She said they’re often struggling to get through on the phone to the authorities.
“We’ve called people where we’ve had contact numbers and we’ll make sure we continue to do that to keep people up to date as best as we can,” Hobbs said.
Meanwhile, across town, the demolition of the famous Shot Tower began on Tuesday – meaning more than 50 Mt Eden residents will be able to re-enter their homes later this week.
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