Since the February 22 earthquake, the Government has done very little to address the housing crisis that is now confronting Christchurch.
While a small number of houses have had cosmetic repairs completed, many Christchurch people, particularly in the eastern suburbs, are living in damaged houses without any idea when their houses might be repaired. Indeed Eastside residents don't even know if they will have to suburb to live in, given the Government's intention to write off large areas as 'uninhabitable'.
People whose houses have been deemed 'uninhabitable' are living in rental accommodation, with family and friends, in garages. One recent media story told the tale of a family of four now sharing their three bedroom home with eight other people. This is a typical 'Eastside' story.
Some six weeks after the quake the Government's first real response to the housing crisis is proving to be less than impressive.
The Department of Building and Housing has placed more than 350 campervans at Canterbury Agricultural Park, situated in the west side of the city, which it says can provide temporary housing for up to 1800 people left homeless. On these numbers it expects each tiny campervan to house five people.
The Government expects families to live in such cramped and inadequate conditions during the coldest and harshest months of the year.
To add insult to injury, the Government is demanding that folk, already under considerable financial pressure, to pay market rents for the 'privilege ' to live in a campervan in a big field that will turn to mud once the wet weather arrives.
The weekly rent for the campervans is $190 for two people, $271 for four people, and $337 for six people. It beggars belief that the Government thinks these campervans can be 'home' to six people.
Why the different rates anyway? The campervans are all the same size.
Campervan occupants will also have to pay a two-week bond and power costs, and also be responsible for their own contents insurance.
The Department of Building and Housing says that the campervans are just 'temporary ' and designed 'to give people breathing space to consider long-term housing options.'
This is absurd.
By the Department's own admission, people will be living in the campervans for at least six months. It's likely to be 'home' for a lot longer than this. People whose homes were damaged in the September quake were still waiting for decisions to be made about their homes when the February quake hit.
The Government's intention is to build 2.500 modular homes but work on those homes is unlikely to start until September at the earliest.
It's estimated that 10,000 houses will have to be demolished and 100,000 need repairs.
The Government hasn't come anywhere near to dealing with the housing crisis
The decision to make quake victims pay market rents for the campervans was made by the increasingly unpopular Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee.
Waimakariri Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove is correct when he says 'that some of these families cannot just pluck $600 out of the air to get into a campervan ... you can't swing a cat in.'
While Mayor Sideshow Bob has had a lot to say about the people of Christchurch facing a grim winter and enormous financial difficulties he has, once again, shown that he is little more then the Government's tame poodle.
Instead of speaking out against Brownlee's appalling decision to impose market rents on folk with little money and no homes , he has said nothing.
It's up to the Labour-aligned councillors to do what Sideshow Bob should be doing and that's stand up and be counted for the people of Christchurch.