Belinda Feek is a NZ Herald reporter

Housing NZ evicts Hamilton families

Notices come just days after $5000 scheme for Aucklanders to move to provinces.

Housing New Zealand is evicting several tenants in Hamilton, just as Aucklanders are being offered $5000 to move into state homes there and in other provincial cities.

Veteran litigant Graham McCready, who has taken private prosecutions against former MP John Banks and other politicians, has agreed to advocate in the Tenancy Tribunal for two Hamilton families facing evictions within six days and says others are also being evicted.

Angela Eastham, 49, who faces eviction this Friday, has multiple sclerosis and cares for a 21-year-old son with a brain injury and a 23-year-old autistic daughter.

Another family with four school-aged children faces eviction within 48 hours if Housing NZ wins a Tenancy Tribunal case this Thursday. The evictions come just days after Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett announced a scheme to pay up to $5000 for Aucklanders seeking social housing to move to the provinces from June 20.

She said Hamilton, Huntly, Ngaruawahia, Whanganui and Gisborne all had vacant state houses available.

Ms Eastham owes Housing NZ about $2700 in rent and said her problems started when she lost a fulltime truck driving job 18 months ago.

Since then she's been trying to find work and had two short contracts but has been told that nobody in the trucking industry is hiring at the moment, she said.

When she works fulltime she has to pay full market rent, and when she isn't working she has to inform the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) that her situation has changed so it can adjust her payments to "income-related rent".

She says she has been pushed and pulled between MSD and Housing NZ and in the end just gave up in frustration.

She's now worried that all her belongings will be turfed out onto the pavement on Friday.

"I wasn't expecting that. I thought I would be given 21 days ... I need more than six days. I've got kids to organise and sort out animals and that's not even thinking about where to go, that's just getting everything out."

She claims the judge allowed her to apply for an extension but then her tenancy manager told her she couldn't.

Mr McCready has filed an urgent application for a re-hearing to suspend the eviction order.

"Housing NZ has gone from being the quality landlord that's sustainable and fair, to being a slum landlord."

Housing NZ Waikato area manager Karan Frederikson said staff had made "numerous attempts" to contact Ms Eastham, including visiting her at her home.

When they spoke to her they urged her to contact MSD to confirm her continued eligibility for income-related rent.

"We believe we have done everything we can to try and help Angela do what she needs to do to continue being eligible for an income-related rent.

"Ending a tenancy is always a last resort for us, and we have worked hard to try and engage and communicate with Angela."

- NZ Herald

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