Re­view af­fects the most vul­ner­a­ble

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By LAU­REN PRIESTLEY

State houses are no longer homes for life. That’s true even for the most vul­ner­a­ble ten­ants.

A de­ci­sion has been made to in­clude pen­sion­ers and peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties in the up­com­ing ten­ancy re­views that aim to move an ex­pected 3000 peo­ple into pri­vate ren­tal prop­er­ties by 2017.

Ten­ancy re­views are among the Hous­ing New Zealand (HNZ) ser­vices be­ing taken over by the Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment (MSD) as of April 14.

Re­views be­gin on July 1 and the first batch in­cludes 27 ten­ants who re­ceive a ben­e­fit for ill­ness or dis­abil­ity and more than 140 ten­ants over the age of 65.

Pen­sion­ers say the im­pend­ing re­views are stress­ful.

One 78-year-old Free­mans Bay ten­ant, who asked not to be named, says her neigh­bours thought they were mov­ing into their city-fringe com­plex for life.

She has lived at the Ryle St flats for 15 years.

‘‘I’m a pen­sioner and these units are all sup­posed to be for pen­sion­ers. I un­der­stood we would be here un­til we died. At our age you want se­cu­rity, and you need it too.’’

Most of the pen­sion­ers just want to know whether they will be able to stay put, she says.

She is wor­ried HNZ will sell the pen­sioner com­plex be­cause of its prime lo­ca­tion.

‘‘It’s not straight-for­ward. If only they would just be hon­est and put us in the pic­ture in­stead of hav­ing this un­cer­tainty hang­ing over our heads.’’

One Grey Lynn pen­sioner says it is dif­fi­cult to tell how strongly the pol­icy will af­fect him and his neigh­bours. He was told ten­ants will know more af­ter April 14.

‘‘Peo­ple think you get in here and have a good rest­ful time, but you’re con­sis­tently in­ter­rupted. HNZ are al­ways in­spect­ing or chang­ing things up.

‘‘We don’t know what will hap­pen yet. It’s un­set­tling.’’

Glen Innes Hous­ing Trust co­or­di­na­tor Peter Wil­son says elderly ten­ants are too afraid to speak out.

One of his clients is a re­tired Pt Eng­land man who is wor­ried about the change.

He says hous­ing is be­com­ing an ur­gent elec­tion issue and politi­cians need to start looking at pro­vid­ing op­tions for the elderly.

‘‘The elderly are feel­ing vul­ner­a­ble al­ready. Nam­ing them may have ad­verse ef­fects on their al­ready un­cer­tain hous­ing sit­u­a­tion,’’ Wil­son says.

‘‘It’s not just the elderly and re­tirees who are pan­ick­ing about hous­ing changes. Ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing the long-term sick, are af­fected.’’

Ta­maki Hous­ing Group mem­ber Sue Henry says she has peo­ple com­ing to the group for help from all over Auck­land.

‘‘They’re so scared to do any­thing about it in case it makes things worse. Peo­ple need to leave the elderly alone.’’

So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Paula Ben­nett says the re­view process will be car­ried out on a case-by­case ba­sis.

The min­istry thought ‘‘long and hard’’ about ex­clud­ing the elderly and peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties from the re­view but de­cided not to be­cause those peo­ple’s needs can change too, she says.

The idea is to make sure the peo­ple that most need so­cial hous­ing are able to get it, Ben­nett says.

‘‘No dis­abled or elderly peo­ple will be asked to leave so­cial hous­ing and ob­tain pri­vate hous­ing in 2014 un­less they are ac­tively will­ing to do so.

‘‘HNZ ten­ants have noth­ing to fear with re­view­able ten­an­cies and peo­ple need to re­mem­ber that re­view­ing a per­son’s ten­ancy does not mean they will be evicted.’’

Change com­ing: Ten­ants are brac­ing them­selves for the up­com­ing state hous­ing re­views.

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