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HOMES FOR WORKERS, Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 66, 18 March 1909
HOMES FOR WORKERS
GOYERXIIENT HOUSES AT ELLEKSLdE. COiEUODIOUS DWELLINGS.
In response to an invitation from ilr. %1. Shanaglian, officer in charge of the Auckland office of the Department of j Labour, representatives of the Press ac- I compa-nied him to EUerslie yesterday, | there to inspect the new home? ior workers in course of erection on the eastern Bide of the railway station. Mr. John Collins, of the head office of the Labour Department, was also with the party. Vpon arrival at, Eilerslie, Mr. Shan.ighan ■vras, met by Mr. Woburn-Temple, architect to the Labour Department, Mr. \V. Ctley, the Government overseer, and Mr. E. A. Hitc-hings. the contractor, who has alreajv erected a large number of houses | ior the (kivernment. Accompanied by these gentlemen, the visitors made a systematic inspection of the housed. Should the interested Granger from beyond our shores seek some visible epitome of the proofs of our social legislation, he might well be directed to these ■workers' home?, which afford startling evidence of the improved status of the •working classes. Incidentally, one may be permitted to w-onder how many working men arriving from the Old Country ■would straight away rocojmise these plea santly situated fully detached villas for vrhat" they are—namely, workers' homes, the rent'of which is between 10/ and 11/ per week, to which, of course, rates, taxe 5 end insurance must be added, which probably adds a little over a shilling to the weekly rent. These houses are of four and fr-e rooms respectively, and are built of varying deSigns, all of which aim at the avoidance of costly ornamentation on the one hand and ugliness on the other, whilst at the same time obviating the monotony which ■would result from a uniformity in design. Every house is provided with a verandah of Australian jarrah or Tasmania n hardwood, and one window in the main or ■living Toom opens to the ground so that egress to and ingress from the balconyis rendered possible. The houses contain a living room, a sitting room, two or three bedrooms, a scullery and a washhouse, to which, though under the same roof as the rest of th<? house, separate access is obtained by an independent door, the hygienic value of this in preventing steam from invading the house itself being evident. A hot and cold water supply is provided, and in the bathroom is a lavatory basin, the senllery being supplied with sinks, all this work being of the latest and most up-to-date ■pattern. The hot water supply comes from a cistern in the roof, held in a •■waterproof tray with outlet to gutter, 60 that in case of a leak the water will not penetrate the house. In th<* wash'house a good copper with soot door for keeping it clean is provided. The drainend is properly ventilated by ventilators running from the. ground tieyond the root, and generally speaking, every room and part of the house is properly ventilated on the latest principle. In the scullery meat saies are provided, and also gas-piping for the installation of a gasetove, gas fittings being also put in every room. Clothes line posts are also proJFided. These houses are all built on concrete ■foundations, and are supplied with a highj>ressure water service, fire plugs being in close proximity in the event of fire. They are fitted throughout with cupboards and dressers, store-rooms and linen presses. Every room can be entered from the passage, no room having to be used as a thoroughfare to any other. The bedrooms average 12ft. square, and the living rooms 15ft. square.. The houses ■ are nicely painted inside and out, the painting inside corresponding with the- wall papers. Ail the ceilings are panel ceilings. A cooking range is installed in every house. In some cases the range is in the living-room, in others it is in the . scullery, a register grate . being fitted in the living room. The former systero is a radically bad one, and is the one drawback to otherwise perfect little houses. It is distinctly contrary to the principles of hygiene that cooking should go on in the living room of. a house. The atmosphere of a kitchen, especially in a warm, damp climate, is unhealthy for growing children. In conversation "with the writer. ■Mγ. John Collins said be quite agreed with that view, but unfortunately .the Government had to suppry a demand, and the demand was for ranges in living rooms. That is, of course, a survival of the universal habit amongst the working classes of but a few years ago of living in one room—the kitchen —because they had but one room to live in. But conditions have changed. It is the avowed object, of the Government to improve the conditions under ■which the working class live, and assuredly it should be the duty of the Government to strenuously resist a demand calculated to perpetuate an unhealthy practice which, however imperative it may have been in the past on the score of economy and necessity, is quite uncalled for under the better condition prevailing to-day. It is expressly pro-1 vided in the Shearers' Accommodation Act that no cooking shall be done in the living room, and if it is undesirable in the case of the shearer it is at least as much so in the case of the growing children of the working class. These houses are only let to genuine ■workers whose incomes from all sources is not in excess of £200 a j'ear, and who do not possess any house property. A condition of the lease is that tenants shall insure against fire in the Government Fixe Insurance Department. A curious anomaly in administrative methods is revealed in the fact that although tiio Labour Department controls the construction of these houses, and that the vote for them is included in the Labour Department's estimate, as soon as they ar-e completed they pass out of the control of that Department and come under the control of the Lands and Survey Department. Thus, the cost accounts of these houses are kept in the books of one Department, and the revenue accounts in the books of another. But, further, if subsequently repairs or alterations are wanted, it is the Labour Department (why not the Public Works Department?) which has to carry them out. All of which is mysterious, not ■being understood even of the various departmental officers themselves.
HOMES FOR WORKERS, Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 66, 18 March 1909
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