Nga mihi whanui ki a koutou ma. I almost watched homelessness occur care of our government departments today and my heart is so heavy and traumatised someone with bigger shoulders then I needs to know what to do about this at central policy and practise drivers level. For all that has been said about eliminating poverty and homelessness no changes that can be made quite swiftly have been made to prevent the problem increasing for right now. Read and watch how every system contributed.
The income breakdown you are looking at is of a single mum with one child living in South Auckland. The landlord notified a rise in the rent to “Market” rate of $550 per week for a basic, and run down home.
Refer back to the picture. There’s not enough money even with the $92 per week she’s entitled to in family tax credits to pay the rent.
She’s done her utmost to secure extra work and find another home. When there’s 33 families applying for the same house you don’t stand much of a chance when you’re up against others with far more income and job titles. Same with work but she’s working on her own solutions.
She has been to mediation because the sudden rise in the rent is worthy of debate. That didn’t find in her favour. She made application to the ministry of justice to reduce the court orders you see attached to benefit for payment. They were comfortable she was paying the right amount.
After weeks asking for an appointment or call back from WINZ the appointment happened today. I went in and sat down as she told the case manager that in the time it’s taken to get in to the office the rent has slipped further behind at the new rate and the landlord is taking her to court to evict her this Thursday unless the arrears are met and the current rental amount is guaranteed to be paid.
The case manager is not a bad person, but when she does the numbers she says quietly “you don’t have enough money to pay the rent. Paying the arrears would mean we are only delaying the inevitable so we can’t help you.” And then I waited. For something. You know. Next steps – available housing, a special grant until they can get her in a state home to keep her and her baby safe. The silence was deafening and I gulped “I’m sorry if there’s no assistance to grant this lady then what do you propose the next steps are?” She shrugged and I saw her eyes water as well and said “Well when she is evicted we can help with emergency accommodation grants.” I said “No homelessness is not the answer. It can’t be. The time to save this family is now.” I negotiated the arrears and the manager approved the payment, as I helped her string together a way to pay the rent for now with her family chipping in. I haven’t won it for her yet because it largely depends on landlord and court and the strength of their commitment to fair and just outcomes.
But imagine this. With a shrug of the shoulders from our government departments our families are homeless.
I’m traumatised by that moment. I almost witnessed the end of all hope for this young woman and her baby and there was just nothing there to stop her falling off the cliff. We need the commits made to end poverty to be realised with practical solutions that can be adopted by our government departments now. WINZ have awesome discretionary powers, encourage them to apply it to pay the rent. A situation like this, come on Justice – she’s not comfortable albeit you are. WINZ – cover the rent until a solution is found. There’s no housing alternatives – hotels equals they lose self worth, all their property and possessions in eviction process as well. It’s cheaper to pay the extra rent then house families in hotels. And as for the landlord hmmmm …. #ChangeMustCome #WeNeedSolutions#WhatAreThey?