Homeless mother-of-six Tania Andrew couldn't find a motel room to stay in anywhere in Auckland yesterday. Andrew, 36, and her six children aged from 13 to 4 have been alternating between the children's paternal grandmother's house and a garage in Otara which they are sharing with Andrew's sister, the sister's husband and their teenage son.
"I'm separated from my husband because his mum couldn't handle us and the kids in her small little house. It's too much for her," Andrew said.
She moved into the garage with her sister's family, which is behind a main house occupied by her sister's husband's family.
"There's a lot of them, it's a really big family," she said. "They've even got a sleepout on the other side."
But she said the pressure of up to 10 people sleeping in the garage forced her to seek help yesterday from Auckland Action Against Poverty, which arranged an urgent appointment with Work and Income yesterday morning. She hopes they will find a motel for the family today. "They have been trying their hardest, but every time they ring to a motel it's full. Even if there is one it would only allow three of my children plus myself, they can't accommodate a family of seven," she said.
However the crisis will ease slightly in the next few weeks as a new 51-unit "pop-up" emergency housing block is completed in Luke St, Otahuhu. Families moved into the first three homes yesterday and the development will be opened by Prime Minister Bill English today. The two-, three- and four-bedroom houses have been built temporarily on land that will be needed for a school in seven to 10 years.
Housing NZ has built the homes but they will be managed by VisionWest, the Salvation Army and the Monte Cecilia Housing Trust, which have been funded to provide social workers to help tenants with issues such as debt and addictions.