19 Jun 2019

Family of six who lived in one-bedroom unit move into HNZ home

From Checkpoint, 5:47 pm on 19 June 2019

A family of six with a sick baby who lived in a one-bedroom rental for four years say their new state home is a miracle, but there are still thousands of people waiting for a spot.

Checkpoint spoke to the family a fortnight ago about how they had waited on the public housing list for four years. 

After inquiries from Checkpoint however, the Ministry for Social Development said it had reassessed the family's circumstances after realising a letter from Manukau Counties DHB had been overlooked. 

A working family earning $44,000 a year, they were struggling to pay for their one-bedroom private rental, while their baby had recent contracted meningitis. 

Dad had struggled after his earnings were cut by a lack of overtime hours, and said the weight of responsibility was crushing for him. 

"I don't want my kids to struggle," he told Checkpoint. "I don't want them to stay with no food."

Now the story is much different.

The front porch of their three-bedroom state home has a neat row of little shoes. There is a sign saying pest control has been carried out, and insulation is set to be put into the floors and ceilings in the next couple of weeks. 

Mum said the house was a dream come true. 

"We are very happy and so excited that our house - it's a big house and it's a big place for us and the kids. 

"I didn't imagine I can live and stay in this nice big bedroom now ...  I can make it my home now. This is my home, and especially my family - especially the boys - they like it. 

"It's a miracle ... finally I've got a home and I'm very happy. 

She said the children were having to learn to sleep in their own rooms, with brand new beds. 

"They always say 'hi mum, welcome to our home' ... my older one he's happy, he said 'I'm more happy to come home'." 

The previous unit they were living in cost them $365 a week, but they were now paying $221 a week, leaving them more for power, food and other essentials. 

Social worker Alistair Russell from the Māngere East Family Service centre said it had taken a large amount of work and pushing, but there were others in the same position who were still waiting. 

"There are 11,000-plus other families who are in very similar situations, with very similar needs who won't have access to that advocacy, they won't have the media coverage. 

"They won't be getting into housing any time soon."