Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

Winz pays $60k in motel bills for mother of eight

The Mangere woman has been put up in motels with her partner and eight children for the past 10 months. Photo: Dean Purcell
The Mangere woman has been put up in motels with her partner and eight children for the past 10 months. Photo: Dean Purcell

A mother of eight has been lent $60,000 by Work and Income to pay motel bills because she has been banned from state housing for a year.

The Mangere woman, aged 28, has been put up in motels with her partner, 30, and eight children aged from 5 months up to 11 years for the past 10 months.

Work and Income is paying $1200 a week for their current motel, where they have been for five months. Some of their earlier bills were for up to $1700 a week.

The woman, who asked to be called "Jane", said she was suspended from all Housing NZ properties after her last state house was found to be contaminated with "pure" methamphetamine ("P").

Social Development Ministry housing chief Carl Crafar said the family was evicted from the house last July due to the meth contamination.

"They are currently not eligible for a Housing NZ house, and have admitted to using meth in their past three Housing NZ properties," he said.

But Jane said the contamination occurred before she moved into the house three years earlier.

"I have never used meth or cooked it in my life," she said.

She was sure that no one else used the drug while she lived there.

"I know who I let through my property, which is only me and my eight children and my partner. My partner has never used meth," she said.

She said her partner worked as a builder until the family was evicted, but then stopped work to support her.

"I needed help due to my falling into a deep depression due to what I was getting accused of," she said.

She said the family received $800 a week in jobseeker support, family tax credits, accommodation supplement and temporary additional support.

But about $500 was taken out in repayments for loans used to buy furniture for the previous state house including a fridge, lounge suite, children's beds, TV and game station.

"That leaves us with $300 a week to pay for food, gas and running my children to school," she said.

She said Work and Income had told the family that they should look for a private rental costing up to $550 a week, and they had to prove that they were looking for a rental house.

"I have obligations where I have to look for private listings. I do that every week," she said.

But she did not believe the family could afford to pay $550 a week, so they had stayed in motels even though they knew they would have to pay back Work and Income eventually.

"I just don't know where to go from here onwards. I don't want to bring the kids out on the street," she said.

Mr Crafar said Jane had received $59,761 in emergency accommodation assistance since July.

"She is on the social housing register, however as she can only be housed through other housing providers [not Housing NZ], this has seen her social housing options severely reduced," he said.

"In turn, this means our ability to help her is severely reduced.

"It is clear this has contributed to her housing need, so she does need to take some responsibility for paying this back.

"Our main concern is ensuring the children have a roof over their head, and we are continuing to work with the family on addressing a number of complex issues they face."

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 27 Sep 2016 22:04:58 Processing Time: 19ms