Housing Minister Phil Twyford recently admitted to only becoming aware last week that the compensation planned for tenants who were evicted over flawed methamphetamine testing would cause them to lose their benefit entitlements, prompting the Government to further delay any form of compensation. Auckland Action Against Poverty is condemning the Government’s delay of the compensation and is calling on Housing New Zealand and the Ministry of Social Development to work together to immediately give tenants proper compensation.
“The Government is failing former Housing New Zealand tenants by promising cash compensation without considering the consequences it would have on their benefit entitlements”, says Ricardo Menendez March, Auckland Action Against Poverty Coordinator.
“This is indicative of a wider issue where Housing New Zealand and the Ministry of Social Development are not working together to assist individuals. The legislation is quite clear about the cash asset limits and how it affects people’s access to their benefit. It is unacceptable for Minister Phil Twyford to have showed such a severe lack of foresight on the effect of a token cash compensation would have on its recipients.
“Delaying any form of compensation is cruel, since already almost 200 tenants have come forward hoping they’d receive some help after they had lost everything. After being evicted, many former Housing New Zealand tenants ended up homeless and lost all of their belongings.
“Already the proposed $3000 cash compensation falls short and does not account for thesocial harm that the evictions had caused. Last month, Auckland Action Against Poverty demanded the Government look at each individual based on need case toassess a fair amount for compensation.
“We are calling on the Ministry of Social Development and Housing New Zealand to work together to assist former Housing New Zealand tenants evicted because of the bogus meth contamination. At the very least, the tenants should be offered non-recoverable grants by Work and Income to assist them with clothes, furniture, and any other necessity they’re in need of. They should also be given access to a suitable state home at the earliest opportunity.
“Work and Income is equipped to provide assistance without affecting people’s benefit entitlements. Many tenants are still without adequate clothing, bedding, furniture or shelter. Providing people non-recoverable grants to help cover these necessities and any other costs would go some way towards alleviating their material hardship.
“There is no excuse to not provide material assistance to the evicted tenants while the legislation is changed to allow for a cash compensation without affecting benefit entitlements. After this blunder, the Minister should be pulling all the stops to assist the evicted tenants get their lives back on track.
“The longer these former Housing New Zealand tenants go without assistance, the higher the bill for compensation and the greater the damage the Government is inflicting on them.”