Families with children kicked out of state housing for not paying their rent

Families with children are being kicked out of state housing for not paying their rent.

1 NEWS has obtained figures under the Official Information Act which show Housing New Zealand evicted 87 families between 2014-15 and 2017-18.

An eviction is the most drastic action a landlord can take against a tenant and is usually used as a last resort.

It involves the courts and a bailiff, who is someone who has the same powers as a police officers, to force tenants out.

Housing New Zealand evicted 21 families for illegal activity like drug use, while antisocial behaviour including abuse towards neighbours forced another 13 out.

The largest number of state tenants evicted were the 45 families who did not pay their rent, one of those was a woman and eight children.

Chief operating officer Paul Commons said it's "absolutely not right to put anyone on the street without doing everything we can to support them."

He says evictions are rare and most result from Housing New Zealand's inability to get a "constructive conversation with someone".

"An eviction is the result of a very, very long process where we've exhausted every possibility of supporting a tenant to maintain their circumstances," Mr Commons said.

The Salvation Army would prefer that tenants are left where they are, otherwise it just creates another social problem.

"It would be best to keep those kids housed keep the family together and work on a solution," said Major Pam Waugh.

"We'd like to see them (Housing New Zealand) formulate policies around who the client is so face to face work with the client understand their needs understand their situation," she said.

Housing New Zealand is currently reviewing its policies, but says the woman with eight kids has a house to live in.

The shocking admission by Housing New Zealand has social agencies pleading for a more compassionate approach to be taken to housing the vulnerable. Source: 1 NEWS

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Napier rental squeeze leaves families in 'absolute desperation'

Napier families who are desperate for housing are applying for flatshares and one-bedroom units.

A Napier landlord who posted an advertisement for a one-bedroom unit on TradeMe got more than 900 inquiries within 24 hours.

"We pulled it because we got 946 replies... I honestly couldn't believe there were that many people wanting a place."

The one-bedroom unit in Tamatea was available for $285 a week.

Several applicants were families who simply could not find anywhere else to live, he said.

"We put in the ad that it was not suitable for families or children, but they were quite willing to say the kids can sleep in the bedroom and we'll sleep in the lounge."

Most of those who inquired were unwilling to fill in an application form asking for reference checks and a police check.

This helped the landlord whittle down the list to about 50 people, who were invited to view the property at an open day, he said.

"Even then you could tell some people were desperate, a couple of them had tears in their eyes when they were talking to us."

Another Napier man searching for two flatmates to share his Ahuriri home said he was getting dozens of calls and texts each day - and many were from families.

On four different occasions he had families turning up to sign a tenancy, when he was expecting a single person to show up.

"They led me to believe that the room was only for one person," he said.

Hawke's Bay Properties director Dee Penno was not surprised.

"There is just absolute desperation out there," she said.

"You get all these applicants and how do you pick? Which desperate person do you pick?"

More than 200 inquiries had already been made in response to a current TradeMe ad for a one-bedroom flat in the Napier suburb of Maraenui, available for $260 a week.

Prospective tenants would often offer more than the advertised price in order to secure a home, Ms Penno said.

"And I also have people that ring up literally two minutes after I've listed it wanting to see the house before anyone else, begging down the phone."

Proposed new requirements for rental properties, such as insulation and heating, would make the situation worse, Ms Penno said.

A lot of landlords had sold up over the last 18 months, because of the buoyant market in Hawke's Bay, she said.

And she predicted it would only get worse, if stricter requirements for rental properties came into force.

"It is scaring a lot of landlords off... and I think we will see a lot of Mum and Dad investors with one rental property saying 'this is too hard, we're out'," she said.

Hawke's Bay rents had risen the fastest in the country, jumping 14 percent in the last year to a record high of $480 in August, according to figures from TradeMe.

The number of emergency housing special needs grants given to pay for emergency motel accommodation had tripled in Hawke's Bay and Gisborne between the March and June quarters, Ministry for Social Development (MSD) figures showed.

More people were coming to MSD for help, just as it had asked them to, an MSD spokesperson said.

MSD usually saw an increase in those needing help over the winter months.

"A high proportion of the people on the Social Housing Register in the East Coast region are living in insecure housing - accommodation that is unsuitable on a long-term basis. Winter will be making things worse for those people," MSD said.

By Anusha Bradley

rnz.co.nz

A one-bedroom Napier unit offered for rent for $285 a week attracted 946 replies, some from families.
A one-bedroom Napier unit offered for rent for $285 a week attracted 946 replies, some from families. Source: rnz.co.nz

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Primary teachers reject latest pay offer from Ministry of Education, may strike next term

Primary school teachers and principals could hold a second national strike next term after rejecting the Government's latest pay offer of three per cent a year for most of them.

A secret online ballot on the offer for NZEI members closed last night and the union says they resoundingly rejected the Government’s latest collective agreement offers.

Tracey Martin says she hopes the NZEI and Ministry of Education will get back to the negotiating table. Source: 1 NEWS

NZEI President Lynda Stuart said members had sent a clear message that the offers did not address concerns about the growing teacher shortage, time to teach and support for children with additional learning needs.

"Teachers and principals are saying that they are disappointed by the Government's failure to deliver and they are resolute in their determination,"  Mrs Stuart said.

"Now we have the ballot result, the next step is in members' hands. They are discussing this online and in conversations in their workplaces," she said.

"At the NZEI Te Riu Roa Annual Conference at the end of this week, representatives will consider the compiled feedback about potential collective action and will make a recommendation about what we do in Term 4.  If further strike action is recommended, all affected members will vote on this early next term."

Close up shot of pencils in classroom
Source: Te Karere

The revised offer rejected by primary teachers included a three-year term from the date of settlement and an increase in the base salary scale by three per cent each year.

The NZEI says it included no provisions for reducing workloads or class sizes and no committed funding for supporting children with additional learning needs, such as funding a Special Education Needs Coordinator role in each school.

The Acting Minister of Education released a Draft Disability and Learning Support Plan last week which proposed an in-school Learning Support Coordinator  role, but funding is not yet committed, NZEI said.

The revised offer rejected by primary principals included a three percent salary increase each year for principals of schools with more than 100 students.

It included increases of 4.5%+4.5%+4.4% a year for principals of schools with fewer than 100 students.

Again there were no provisions to address workload, NZEI said.

Primary teachers and principals went on strike nationwide on August 15.

It's really disappointing - Acting Education Minister Tracey Martin

Acting Education Minister Tracey Martin says the teachers' rejection of the latest offer is really disappointing.

"We understand their frustration, but it's disappointing because we really want to get back together and move forward, we want to move education forward," she told reporters at Parliament.

Ms Martin says she's "slightly surprised" by the rejection.

"I mean this offer is a larger offer than all three offers put together that were accepted by the NZEI under the previous government."

Ms Martin says she hopes the NZEI and Ministry of Education "will get back to the table and work constructively together to try and come to some arrangement".

The Government has prioritised tertiary students over teachers - Nikki Kaye, National Education spokesperson
National's Nikki Kaye says the primary teachers' rejection of a pay offer is really disappointing, but understandable. Source: 1 NEWS

National's Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says the teachers' rejection of an offer a second time is really disappointing, but understandable as the Government has prioritised tertiary students over teachers.

"The Government has put forward a $2.8 billion tertiary package, which is equivalent to giving every teacher in New Zealand a 15 per cent pay rise," Ms Kaye told reporters. 

"So it's not right that they claim they haven't got the money. They've chosen to spend it on tertiary students instead of teachers," she said. 

"So our advice to the government is they need to step things up. It's not good for parents and children's learning to have multiple strikes. This is now the second time there's been a rejection. We haven't had primary teachers strikes in 24 years."

Primary teachers have rejected a revised pay offer from the Government. Source: 1 NEWS


Winston Peters denies National Party claims he called Wally Haumaha after inquiry launched

The National Party is claiming Winston Peters called Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha to assure him "things would be okay" after an inquiry was launched into the process of his appointment. 

MP Chris Bishop used his Parliamentary privilege to claim links between NZ First and Mr Hauhama "go further" than his unsuccessful bid for NZ First candidacy in 2005.

"Winston Peters rang Wally Haumaha, after the inquiry into his appointment was announced. He gave him assurances, or words to that effect, that things would be okay.

"That is deeply, wildly inappropriate," Mr Bishop said. 

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters denies the claim.

In a statement Mr Peters says: "During Parliament’s General Debate this afternoon the National Party MP Chris Bishop claimed to have made a revelation related to the Haumaha inquiry. He hasn’t made a revelation and I’m swatting-off this midge right now.

"There is no basis to Mr Bishop’s claim that I rang Mr Haumaha after the inquiry into his appointment was announced, nor have provided any assurances on the matter. I have not called nor had any reason to call Mr Haumaha since the controversy.

"My office has checked all my phone records since the inquiry was announced. No such call was made.

"It is a matter of public record that this inquiry was initiated in my capacity as acting Prime Minister.

"The public can have faith in the inquiry. It was initiated by Cabinet, it is being conducted by a highly respected independent QC, and it will report back to Cabinet. The terms of reference have been publicly released. The final report will be made public.

"Regardless, any suggestion that New Zealand First Ministers are seeking to unduly influence this inquiry is baseless nonsense," says Mr Peters.

Background

There is currently an inquiry underway into the processes of the appointment of Wally Haumaha as Deputy Police Commissioner after comments he made defending police officers accused of rape in 2004 came to light.

Mr Haumaha has since apologised for the comments, saying they do not reflect his views.

There have also been accusations of bullying behaviour on a project Mr Haumaha was working on involving two women from the Justice Ministry and one from Corrections.

The incident reportedly led to the policy analysts walking out of Police National Headquarters and completing the project from their own respective offices.

The allegation was made in the House by Chris Bishop under the protection of Parliamentary privilege. Source: 1 NEWS