Sick woman's home made safe by HNZ

By Mike Dinsdale

A 77-year-old Onerahi woman is delighted Housing NZ has installed new security stays on her home, but disappointed they were only put in after the Northern Advocate took up her case after three weeks of "getting fobbed off" by the organisation.

About a month ago the woman, who did not want to be named, went to HNZ to ask that it put in better security stays at her HNZ home after two attempted late night break-ins.

The woman, who has survived cancer which has left her with breathing difficulties that need her to keep a window open for air flow, felt insecure and unsafe after the attempted burglaries.

The perpetrators tried to jemmy open a bathroom window and spare bedroom window.

She went to HNZ asking that they put in better security stays that would allow her to keep an air flow through her HNZ home, but said she was "getting fobbed off".

She was told in a letter from HNZ that it only installs security stays for two reasons, ventilation in a bathroom or kitchen where there is no mechanical vent and where an open window has external fall height of two metres and the internal window sill is lower than one metre.

The woman costed installing stays at between $150 and $170, but said she can't afford that anyway and, as her landlord, HNZ had a duty to ensure she is safe and secure in her home.

Last Wednesday she brought her concerns to the Northern Advocate and questions were sent to HNZ headquarters in Wellington.

The next morning she got a visit from a HNZ representative who apologised for the situation. By 4.30pm that afternoon, new stays were put on windows in the lounge, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. "It's a huge weight off my shoulders. Thanks to the Advocate it's been done in super-quick time after three weeks of getting fobbed off. I'm feeling much more safe and secure now," she said.

"It's wonderful and it didn't cost me anything. But it's a shame I had to go to the Advocate before it got done."

In a response to the Advocate, HNZ tenancy services regional manager Angela Pearce said the organisation took the health and safety of tenants very seriously.

"We are visiting Mrs Stevens today (March 28) and we are confident we will find a solution that meets her needs in relation to adequate ventilation of her Housing New Zealand property and also addresses her security concerns," Ms Pearce said.

"We will also be apologising to Mrs Stevens for any concerns our handling of this matter may have caused."

- Northern Advocate

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