Abbott Street wins fight

Corrections abandons plan for halfway house.

Corrections abandons plan for halfway house.

RECEIVING THEIR PETITION: National MPs Anne Tolley and Mark Mitchell are presented with a petition containing 1000 signatures from Abbott Street residents and concerned supporters, from left, Mrs Tolley, Patricia Merryfield, Mr Mitchell, Stewart McGregor, Mandy Edwards and Toni Hughes.

Abbott Street residents are surprised and elated that the Department of Corrections has pulled out of placing a “halfway house” in their neighbourhood.

In May, residents found out the department planned to turn an Abbott Street house into accommodation for people returning from prison into the community.

As their questions increased, they found out it was primarily for “child sex offenders”.

After battling for about five months to reason with the department, last month it was “finally” agreed to not place anyone at the address who had a current or historical child sex offence conviction.

“We have had a letter now saying they have withdrawn their interest for any use of the house at Abbott Street,” residents said today.

The letter from Department of Corrections senior adviser community engagement and reintegration Scott Miller, says as a result of meeting with residents to discuss how people who are subject to sentence and orders in the community are managed, the department has decided not to proceed with the proposed service.

He reiterated the safety of those people “is our top priority” and thanked people who provided constructive feedback.

“We understand that the accommodation of people who are returning from prison to the community can be concerning for communities.

“We work hard to balance this concern with our obligations to safely manage people in the community when they can no longer be detained in prison.”

Abbott Street residents spoke to local and central government officials of fears for their children, stress and falling property values because of the planned “halfway house for child sex offenders’’ in their neighbourhood.

They raised a petition of 1000 signatures and another 2000 online.

Some put their property on the market and one resident said a real estate agent told her that her house had lost $30,000 to $40,000 in value.

Resident Stewart McGregor said this morning the residents were relieved when the child offender aspect was removed.

“The fact they agreed not to house child sex offenders was a win for us. Our key concern was the safety of our kids. To have it go one step further was a surprise.”

He described the communication process over the months as “difficult”.

“From the start, it was really hard to get information about the house and what kind of support and safeguards were going to be implemented. We did not find out it was primarily for child sex offenders for months.”

Residents felt their safety ‘stripped away'

Not having all the information made the entire process harder and more stressful, Mr McGregor said.

“Transparency from the start — that’s what we needed from Corrections, Housing New Zealand (who own the property) and the Salvation Army (who administer the service for Corrections).”

He offered advice for others who might in future be placed in a similar situation.

“Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe. We felt our safety was stripped away. It was massive and has taken months — but we felt we had to fight for the safety of our kids.

The residents are grateful for all the help and support from the community.

(See opinion page for letter from the residents)

The future of the house is not known at this stage.

“Ideally, with the housing crisis we have, we would like to see a needy family housed in it.”

Abbott Street residents are surprised and elated that the Department of Corrections has pulled out of placing a “halfway house” in their neighbourhood.

In May, residents found out the department planned to turn an Abbott Street house into accommodation for people returning from prison into the community.

As their questions increased, they found out it was primarily for “child sex offenders”.

After battling for about five months to reason with the department, last month it was “finally” agreed to not place anyone at the address who had a current or historical child sex offence conviction.

“We have had a letter now saying they have withdrawn their interest for any use of the house at Abbott Street,” residents said today.

The letter from Department of Corrections senior adviser community engagement and reintegration Scott Miller, says as a result of meeting with residents to discuss how people who are subject to sentence and orders in the community are managed, the department has decided not to proceed with the proposed service.

He reiterated the safety of those people “is our top priority” and thanked people who provided constructive feedback.

“We understand that the accommodation of people who are returning from prison to the community can be concerning for communities.

“We work hard to balance this concern with our obligations to safely manage people in the community when they can no longer be detained in prison.”

Abbott Street residents spoke to local and central government officials of fears for their children, stress and falling property values because of the planned “halfway house for child sex offenders’’ in their neighbourhood.

They raised a petition of 1000 signatures and another 2000 online.

Some put their property on the market and one resident said a real estate agent told her that her house had lost $30,000 to $40,000 in value.

Resident Stewart McGregor said this morning the residents were relieved when the child offender aspect was removed.

“The fact they agreed not to house child sex offenders was a win for us. Our key concern was the safety of our kids. To have it go one step further was a surprise.”

He described the communication process over the months as “difficult”.

“From the start, it was really hard to get information about the house and what kind of support and safeguards were going to be implemented. We did not find out it was primarily for child sex offenders for months.”

Residents felt their safety ‘stripped away'

Not having all the information made the entire process harder and more stressful, Mr McGregor said.

“Transparency from the start — that’s what we needed from Corrections, Housing New Zealand (who own the property) and the Salvation Army (who administer the service for Corrections).”

He offered advice for others who might in future be placed in a similar situation.

“Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe. We felt our safety was stripped away. It was massive and has taken months — but we felt we had to fight for the safety of our kids.

The residents are grateful for all the help and support from the community.

(See opinion page for letter from the residents)

The future of the house is not known at this stage.

“Ideally, with the housing crisis we have, we would like to see a needy family housed in it.”

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