Sonya is a social issues reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Sixty-nine and living in a caravan - Lynette Haines shares her experience

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Lynette Haines is 69-years-old and living in a caravan. Photo/George Novak
Lynette Haines is 69-years-old and living in a caravan. Photo/George Novak

Sixty-nine-year-old woman Lynette Haines shared her experience of being a retiree living in a campervan at the Cross-Party Homelessness Inquiry in Tauranga.

"I shouldn't be 69 years old and living in this," she said, holding up a photo of a 3.3m caravan. "New Zealand retirees have been left on the back foot and I'm one of them."

Haines said she was 60 with a full-time job when the Global Financial Crisis hit and within weeks she was jobless. She could not find another job and decided use her savings to live in a caravan park.

She decided this year that because of her age, she would try and find a permanent home to live in, but she had not had any luck. The homes she found that she could afford on the pension were not suitable for an ageing person or were in neighbourhoods where she would not feel safe.

Single mum Marion (Mazz) Adams, whose plight has been reported on in the Bay of Plenty Times, said not knowing where you were going to go the next day with five kids was hard.

"I can't even begin to explain what that's like. There's no way of knowing what you're going to do tomorrow. No idea how you'll cook your next kai for your kids. Some people have asked why I don't go to Whanganui. Why would I go there if my kids are stable and I have a job?"

In a statement made to the Bay of Plenty Times, Nic Blakeley, deputy chief executive of social housing at the Ministry of Social development said anyone who was concerned about having somewhere to stay should get in touch with Work and Income so it could look at what it could do to help.

"We can look at options including help to stay where they are (if appropriate), help to stay with friends or family, and if necessary help to stay in emergency accommodation while they look for somewhere more permanent to stay.

"We can help people access affordable private rentals by assisting with bonds and rent advances. We connect people with the highest needs with social housing providers and subsidise peoples' rents."

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