15 Dec 2017

NZ's longest emergency motel tenant gets keys to HNZ home

From Checkpoint, 5:51 pm on 15 December 2017

Robert Erueti spent more than 58 weeks in a motel as emergency housing, and weeks living rough or in a boarding house after being evicted from his HNZ home.

Today, he picked up the keys to his new HNZ unit in Onehunga.

The Auckland man had been living a transient lifestyle ever since he was evicted from his Housing New Zealand home. 

He was forced to leave in March last year after tests showed small amounts of methamphetamine traces - but he was never charged, and both the Ministry of Social Development and Housing New Zealand said there was no proof he was responsible. 

But he was evicted because his name was on the lease.

He went on to sleep rough, in a boarding house, and spent 58 weeks in a motel at a cost of at least $44,000 to the taxpayer, making him New Zealand's longest emergency housing motel tenant.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford, who spoke out against HNZ evictions over meth traces, said last week that Mr Erueti should never have ended up in the position he found himself in, and he wouldn't have been evicted under his leadership.

After learning of his story, he met Mr Erueti in person, and a couple days later Housing New Zealand contacted him to offer him a unit in Onehunga.

Mr Erueti said he now felt a sense of closure after what had been a stressful, trying two years. 

Mr Twyford has asked officials to consider reviewing the standards the government put in place earlier this year, which guide the levels in which methamphetamine poses a health risk, and which Housing New Zealand tenants have been evicted over. 

The Minister says there is enough independent commentary that the standard - which is now 1.5 micrograms of methamphetamine per 100 square centimetres - is still too low.