Housing NZ tenant to fight marching orders

By Anne-Marie McDonald -
67 comments
HOUSE-PROUD: Wendy Ross (right) - pictured with daughter Nicola Robertson - is no longer entitled to live in the Housing New Zealand property that has been her home for more than 30 years.
HOUSE-PROUD: Wendy Ross (right) - pictured with daughter Nicola Robertson - is no longer entitled to live in the Housing New Zealand property that has been her home for more than 30 years.

Social housing tenant Wendy Ross feels "like a criminal".

"I haven't done anything wrong ... I've worked, I've paid my taxes, I've raised my family, so why are they trying to make me leave my home?"

Last year we brought you the story of Ms Ross who, having lived in her three-bedroom Whanganui state house for more than 30 years and raised her family there, had been told she would have to move out.

She has now been given a date for her marching orders - July 18 - though that has only strengthened her resolve to remain in the house she considers her home. Ms Ross, who works for the minimum wage as a carer and lives alone, has been told by the Ministry of Social Development that she is no longer eligible for a state house.

The ministry told the Chronicle that social housing reforms introduced in 2014 were intended to ensure that "people living in social housing still need it".

After 30 years, the ministry has decided that she no longer needs it. But Ms Ross believes she is being evicted because Housing New Zealand intends to sell the house, as it has others in Whanganui.

She said some of her neighbours had been told to leave, and other state houses in the Puriri St area where she lives are sitting empty.

"This isn't about rehoming people who need help. I'm not preventing anyone else from living here. This is about greed," she said.

The ministry said it assisted people who were unlikely to remain eligible for state housing to look at options for alternate housing, and that people paying close to market rent and who might be able to sustain private accommodation were being contacted first.

"Transitioning social housing tenants to independence where possible will free up places for others with greater need."

Ms Ross has been offered alternative accommodation - in a halfway house and in a complex of pensioner flats. She said neither option was suitable.

"The pensioner flat is one-bedroom and it is so small that I can't even get my furniture in it," she said. "It's really rough and there are broken windows and broken furniture everywhere. Besides, I'm not a pensioner yet."

Still a few years off retirement age, Ms Ross said she was looking for full-time work but at the moment was working part-time. The rent for her state house takes up most of her pay.

"Good rental accommodation is hard to find in Whanganui and I definitely couldn't afford anything at market rent, even if I could find anything."

Ms Ross said she loved her home and was proud of it.

Describing herself as a "tough, independent woman", she said she was tired and needed someone to help her.

"I don't know who to ask - I just don't want to be made to feel like a criminal for wanting to stay in my own home.

"My children and grandchildren think of it as home and they are in and out of it all the time."

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