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The government has announced a package of initiatives to assist Cantabrians who have been displaced from their homes due to severe earthquake damage.
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says the package includes the establishment of a temporary accommodation service and financial assistance for displaced homeowners to help cover temporary accommodation costs.
"The temporary accommodation service will provide a safety net for those who are unable to facilitate their own rental accommodation by matching their needs with available properties," Mr Brownlee said.
Financial assistance will be available for homeowners who have had to leave their homes, or will need to leave their homes for a period longer than their insurance covers, while the repair or rebuilding of both land and houses takes place.
In order to access the financial assistance, homeowners must have exhausted their temporary accommodation allowance under their insurance policies.
"There are a significant number of people in Canterbury who are, or will be, displaced from their homes for long periods as the rebuilding and repair of both houses and land takes place," Mr Brownlee said.
"Most people have six or 12 months of temporary accommodation cover under their insurance policy, but the size and scale of this event means the recovery process will take longer than that.
"The government has said all along we are committed to supporting the people of Canterbury during the recovery from this devastating earthquake and this announcement further delivers on that intention," Mr Brownlee said.
The temporary accommodation financial assistance will be $180 a week for a one-person household, $275 a week for a two-person household and $330 a week for households of three or more people to cover rental costs for those who are displaced from their homes due to earthquake damage.
Mr Brownlee said the assistance would be universal and would not be subject to any income or asset testing.
"Cantabrians can apply for the temporary accommodation financial assistance from Monday (21 February 2011)."
The service will be administered by the Ministry of Social Development and the Department of Building and Housing.
From Monday there will be four Canterbury Earthquake Temporary Accommodation Service offices at:
A satellite service will also be provided for residents in the Selwyn district.
"I would encourage anyone with a property to rent in Canterbury that is not already listed online or with an agent to also contact the temporary accommodation service so they can help put a roof over the heads of their fellow Cantabrians during these difficult times," Mr Brownlee said.
The Canterbury earthquake has been ranked as the fourth most costly earthquake in the world ever. As at 17 February EQC had received 181,107 claims, which swamps its previous biggest earthquake claims numbers: Gisborne in 2007, which resulted in 6,224 claims.
The Earthquake Commission (EQC) has to date paid out $740 million to claimants. Further to this, the government paid out $10.6 million to the wage-subsidy scheme in the two months from September 4, and $5 million to the Mayoral Relief Fund. It has also committed to funding at least $140 million of additional land treatment works to give greater protection to people's property should a similar earthquake happen in the future.
For more information about the assistance package, including application forms, phone the Canterbury Earthquake Temporary Accommodation Service on 0800 673 227 or visit: http://www.quakeaccommodation.govt.nz .
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