Broken glass, corrugated iron and rubbish litter the entrances to Housing New Zealand's abandoned Marfell stock in New Plymouth.
Window frames bang in the wind, the glass long since smashed out of them.
Sri Lankan immigrant Madushani Bandara, her young child and husband came to New Zealand for a better life, but this is the world she finds herself surrounded by.
She feels unsafe and wants out of the neighbourhood.
"I think it's not a secure place here because last month our vehicle also damaged by some people so it's not safe here. We also want to move to another place."
Ms Bandara could only watch as groups of people systematically ransacked the vacant Housing NZ properties this week, breaking windows, kicking in walls and taking copper wiring, pipes, hot water cylinders and anything of value.
"We saw that young boys go around the houses and are stealing something. I think they collect some iron things like clothesline and gates"
Ms Bandara said the derelict houses are a magnet for crime and should be knocked down and redeveloped
In 2008, 28 state houses were demolished in Marfell and in 2012, 20 more families were moved out to make way for a redevelopment that never happened.
Housing NZ has just demolished four more units but it still has about 30 vacant properties in the neighbourhood.
A local resident who only wanted to be know as 'Abo' said leaving the houses empty for so long was asking for trouble.
"They could've rented them out. There's a lot of people out there who need them. No money got to do something I guess, eh?
"Young kids have got nothing to do. There's nothing around here for them so young kids are going to break a window. I'm sure you did when you were a kid, I know I did."
Marfell community police officer Sergeant Terry Johnson said the free-for-all began after a Housing NZ contractor allowed residents to help themselves to demolition material.
"Obviously the scrap metal or copper had gone from the legitimate houses that were being wrecked and we then had a spate of other empty houses that were burgled and hot water cylinders and copper was stolen from them."
Sergeant Johnson said the scavengers left a trail of destruction behind them.
"We visited a number of these properties and they'd obviously been broken into. Hot water cylinders that still had water connected had just been cut off and there was water pouring out of some of the houses.
"There had been holes kicked in all the walls where they had been looking for copper piping which had been stripped."
Housing NZ regional manager Darren Toy said it was disappointed at the vandalism of its Marfell properties and felt for the residents.
"Vacant properties can unfortunately attract vandalism and some properties did have items stolen from them. We understand that incidents like this can cause concern for some residents.
"We can assure them that we are taking action to deter vandalism including working with police who are investigating the incident. We will also be installing security measures in the properties."
Mr Toy said the Crown agency was not wiping its hands of Marfell.
"We are fully committed to helping make Marfell a vibrant, attractive suburb and we have been engaging with the local community, suppliers and partner agencies on how this can be achieved.
"More state housing is not necessarily the right approach, so we have been looking at a range of options to help create a sustainable community."
Mr Toy acknowledged some of its Marfell properties could be sold.
Abo reckoned the answer to the area's problems was simple.
"Well, they could keep the houses cheap do them back up and if the tenants wreck the place kick them out for sure, but if they look after keep them in there.
"There's a big area here for playgrounds, kindy anything, you know. It was a good area once and it could be again."
In the meantime, Housing New Zealand is encouraging residents to contact them directly or call the police if they see any suspicious or illegal activity.