Carmen is a social issues and rural reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Housing fear leaves mum distraught

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Katrina Terry is afraid her family will be made homeless because the Housing New Zealand home she is currently living in was tenanted to her mother, who died. Photo / John Borren
Katrina Terry is afraid her family will be made homeless because the Housing New Zealand home she is currently living in was tenanted to her mother, who died. Photo / John Borren

Katrina Terry is pleading with Housing New Zealand to grant her more time to find a new home after the death of her mother.

A week after Joan Tauaki Terry died on January 12, Ms Terry said she was given 21 day's notice to vacate the property she shared with her mother because the tenancy agreement was not in her name.

She has lived in the house for more than a decade and grew up there.

Ms Terry moved back into the home with her husband and four children 10 years ago to care for her mother, who was partially paralysed, and father, Chris, who later died of cancer.

Ms Terry said Housing New Zealand yesterday granted an extension until the end of the month.

But the family would struggle to find a home because of the city's rental shortage, she said.

They could afford a three-bedroom house for up to $400 per week in Mount Maunganui or Papamoa but she said rental prices were "ridiculous".

Ms Terry said the thought of her own family being homeless and on the street meant, "I am worrying like crazy and stressed out".

"I don't remember the last time I had a proper sleep. I have given up, I feel like s*** and I think I am depressed."

When the Bay of Plenty Times visited yesterday an emotional Ms Terry fought back tears as she described feeling helpless.

Her husband worked and Ms Terry said they were almost caught in a catch 22 for social housing because her husband earned above the income threshold.

She had spoken to the Ministry of Social Development but did not feel confident about securing a house due to the criteria.

She acknowledged that she had not lodged an application with the ministry but had a scheduled a phone appointment for February 15.

Housing New Zealand area manager Teresa Pou said it had been working closely with Ms Terry.

Housing New Zealand had urged her to get in touch with the Ministry of Social Development to find out whether she was eligible for social housing.

"If she was eligible, we would be able to sign her up to a tenancy agreement in her current home, or in a new one."

"However, the department understands from MSD that Ms Terry had not yet completed an application, so we strongly encourage her to do this.

"In addition, at our last conversation with Ms Terry, she indicated she was seeking a home in the private sector, and we agreed an end date with her," she said.

"Now that we're aware she would like more time, we have got back in touch with her to offer to extend the end date."

A Ministry for Social Development spokesman said social housing was available for those in the greatest need.

It confirmed Ms Terry had not yet completed a social housing assessment despite having a phone assessment booked in and the agency trying to contact her, he said.

"As part of any social housing assessment we will look at private rental options."

It had introduced additional assistance to help people with the costs of moving into private rental properties - including assistance with letting fees, bond, rent in advance and moving costs, he said.

Te Tawharau o te Ora manager Kellie Kioa said she had fielded 17 inquiries in January and four this month about people seeking accommodation.

Working people were the new homeless she said, "and people who were already in poverty were dropping further down the chain".

"Something needs to change - it is not good enough. They are entitled to a home, that is a human right."

Tauranga Budget Advisory Service manager Diane Bruin said incomes had not kept up with the increase in rents while the number of wage earners seeking help had jumped 21 per cent in the last 12 months.

Social housing income limit:

* $561.79 a week (after tax) for people who have no partner and no dependent children

* $864.30 a week (after tax) for people who have a partner and/or dependent children

* Have cash assets worth less than $42,700

* If you have a partner, their situation will be assessed as part of your application

Source: MSD

- Bay of Plenty Times

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