A partnership between Housing New Zealand and Corrections is helping tackle the housing shortage while also giving prisoners essential skills and potential employment opportunities.
Conceived originally at Spring Hill Corrections Facility in the North Island, the model was transferred to Rolleston Prison after the Christchurch earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Prisoners began contributing to the need for more houses by repairing those damaged in the disaster. Homes were transplanted from their original site and taken to Rolleston Prison, where they would be repaired and eventually returned to Christchurch.
With the majority of those homes now repaired, work will continue with potentially more than 100 new builds coming out of Rolleston Prison, near Christchurch, and Spring Hill Corrections Facility in Waikato over the next five years.
“Part of the reason we really value this programme is because it’s addressing several issues at once,” said Daran Buckland, Housing New Zealand Project Manager.
“Housing New Zealand is one of many agencies working to address the housing shortage and this provides additional stock for us, but we also have prisoners gaining skills which have a notable impact upon their release. We know of cases where people who’ve worked on this programme are now completing apprenticeships.”
HNZ and Corrections have refurbished 73 houses in the first part of this programme, 72 of which have been delivered to Canterbury communities and are homes to our tenants. There are about 25 more that are currently being completed.
Five new warm, dry and safe homes have also already been completed as part of the new partnership agreement.
“These homes are built to the same quality standards of any of our other homes, with the added bonus that they’re designed to be easily transported along most Canterbury streets. There is also potential to move to centres in the South Island, outside of Christchurch” Daran said.
“Some of our tenants would never have imagined they’d have a brand new home in their lifetime, but that’s what we’re able to provide through this programme. They’re modern, warm, dry and comfortable homes.”
For Corrections, “this partnership with Housing NZ ticks all the boxes,” said Mike Howson, Rolleston Prison Director.
“It supports the regeneration of social housing, provides employable construction work skills to prisoners working in the yard and gives something back to the community.”
The prison’s goal was to “get these men work-ready”, Mike said.
“There are construction companies in the community looking for good, hardworking and work-ready staff. We aim to help them fill those vacancies and get these men the skills they need for sustainable employment.
“This development provides the men in the yard with ongoing work and the opportunity to experience and gain qualifications in an even wider range of employable work skills.”