3 stories from Checkpoint yesterday, that add up to a picture of National’s response to housing.
Firstly an Auckland caravan park getting probably more than $1 million/year from low income New Zealanders and beneficiaries with nowhere else to live. They’ve received half a million dollars of WINZ money that must be paid back by the tenants.
[His] caravan was only about 4m long, leaked and had broken windows.
“There were cockroaches there when I moved in. There was no bathroom, I had to use the public one by the office.”
The man lived at the park last year and paid $240 a week.
“[There were] gang members roaming around, drug deals happening at your doorstep. There were quite a few families with kids around,” he said.
Meanwhile, State Houses in South Auckland have been sitting vacant for a year, getting damage from being unoccupied. A dozen houses in the street:
Fina Leiataua, one the tenants who was forced to leave after five years on the street, said she did not understand why HNZ told her to move, if it was not ready to start development.
“They shouldn’t be empty. We thought they would’ve started building houses already because there are so many people that need houses to stay in,” said Ms Leiataua.
“Those houses are now being broken into, people drinking in them, it’s not safe, especially for young ones. Our next-door neighbours were telling us that people have been stealing stuff from their houses.”
Earlier this week it was revealed a family with a disabled child were in a $2300/week motel unit (without oven or laundry – $4/load) while they desperately wait for a Housing NZ home. They’ve been in motel units for most of a year, and initially had to pay the money back to Work and Income. They’re struggling with the lack of stability for their child.
MSD’s response: to vilify them, saying that they weren’t eligible for a house until next year and were difficult to place as their behaviour had resulted in them being repeatedly evicted.
They’ve now had to apologise, as they made mistakes in their hurry to
Ms Murray said she had never been evicted.
She said she did flee a state house late last year after armed men showed up demanding money.
MSD said the family not only owed $340 in rent but contractors who went to the property found blood and a gun and the house later tested positive for methamphetamine.
Ms Murray said squatters moved in after she left, the weapon had nothing to do with her family, and she and her husband have never used or sold meth.
So it appears they’re also somewhat caught up in the Housing New Zealand scandal where houses are tested for trace amounts of meth, and families barred from housing as someone once smoked in that house – when it’s not a safety issue (levels are too low), and there’s no proof it was the tenants who did the smoking. The Law Society has called for a review.
“They’ve been challenged by an independent review from Deloitte, the Ministry of Health, scientists have challenged them and so have we,” Mr Bell [executive director of Drug Foundation] said.
“At every point they’ve been challenged, Housing New Zealand has acknowledged they know the guidelines weren’t fit for purpose, that they shouldn’t be evicting people for meth use, but they continue to do so” […]
About 80 percent of the 116 people issued with 90-day tenancy termination notices last year were evicted for alleged use.
New guidelines relating to meth use were recently unveiled. They indicate HNZ has evicted tenants, and sought costs for clean ups, for traces of meth that posed no risk to people’s health.
All this adds up to a right mess this government is making on housing.
Not providing one of the most basic needs of people in our society, but instead vilifying them and throwing them on the street at any opportunity. All this under housing ministers Bill English, Paula Bennett and Nick Smith – and clearly National MPs see their job as so well done that they need rewarding…