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Housing NZ tenants evicted over flawed meth testing still struggling to find their feet, say more must be done

Housing New Zealand tenants wrongfully evicted due to flawed meth testing say the Government hasn’t done enough to make up for their losses.

It comes after news the Ministry of Social Development is wiping the debt of the hundreds affected.

That’s on top of compensation already offered by Housing New Zealand.

But Amber Keelan told 1 NEWS it hasn’t made up for the turmoil she’s gone through since her eviction about four years ago. She’s still without a home, she said. 

“I lost my son and went to a life of crime because I had no way to support myself,” she said while sitting on her friend’s couch, which is also her current bed.

“I wasn't stable, so I've had a very hectic, downward spiral life."

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    More 800 tenancies were ended between 2013 and last year, based on a deeply flawed policy. Source: 1 NEWS

    She relied on emergency housing after her eviction so will benefit from the relief the Ministry has announced.

    She’s also received $1500 from Housing New Zealand.

    “They have made payments to about 430 people, the average payment just under $8000 dollars," said Housing Minister Phil Twyford.

    He says another 400 payments are still being processed.

    But more than anything, Ms Keelan said she wants another house.

    “I think I should be...on a top priority list, because I have nowhere to go and I did nothing wrong,” she said.

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      The National leader says it sends a poor message that those found to have cooked or used meth in Housing NZ homes get compensation. Source: Breakfast

      When Martin Koroheke was evicted, he didn’t know what to do, he told 1 NEWS.

      He had been in a Housing New Zealand home for 10 years and had built up his belongings over that time.

      After moving out, “I had to start all over again”, he said.

      He said it took around seven months to get into another home, and in that time he had to get loans from more places than just the Ministry of Social Development.

      “I had to go through instant finance to survive," he said, adding that the Government "ain't going to be covering for that”.

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        Kathleen Paraha said the Housing NZ evictions took an enormous personal toll on those evicted, putting people in debt and often leading to drug use among those left homeless. Source: Breakfast

        Meanwhile, Dianne Revill has just settled in a stable home for the first time since her eviction two years ago. For some time, she was just going from place to place, she told 1 NEWS. 

        "All I owned was a bag full of clothes,” she said.

        The instability of her situation forced her to pass the care of her daughter on to her sister.

        “And now I’m looking at having my daughter back with me,” she said.

        She’s happy with the compensation she’s received from Housing New Zealand, and hopes the relief announced by the Ministry will cover the loans she got for furniture after her eviction.

        But she said the eviction is the worst thing that’s ever happened to her.

        Mr Twyford acknowledges “this was badly handled by the Government of the day".

        "A lot of people were badly hurt and it wasn't fair,” he said. “We're sorry for that and we're determined to put it right.”

        The Ministry of Social Development is set to wipe debt related to wrongful evictions and refund loans already paid back by the middle of the year.

        Staff will review the debt from evictions on a case-by-case basis.

        Mr Koroheke said he hopes the Government "will look deep into people like myself… others who are out there”, as many of those affected still look to find their feet.

        Anyone who still needs to contact Housing New Zealand about being evicted from their homes because of the flawed meth testing policy can do so using their dedicated hotline.

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          The Ministry of Social Development is wiping the debt of hundreds of those affected. But it’s not enough, some say. Source: 1 NEWS