Homes offer families a fresh start
State houses from East Auckland are being trucked more than 300 kilometres to give struggling families a fresh start.
The latest relocated Glen Innes house was removed from Kotae Rd on March 26 and will become home to a family currently living in a garage in Kaitaia.
It was the 11th home moved to the He Korowai Trust’s community housing project in Kaitaia – and is the first one to make it out of the suburb in months because of protest action, Housing New Zealand says.
Trust chief executive Ricky Houghton says the houses are going to families who have nowhere left to turn.
‘‘They don’t live there by choice, they live there because they have to.
‘‘Everyone wants to be free from shackles of state housing dependence, these families want a chance to hop on the bottom rung of the homeownership ladder.’’
The trust has nine refurbished state homes on 50 acres of land in Kaitaia and aims to add another 30 to the papakainga (traditional Maori housing village), in the future.
It is about changing the statistics, Houghton says.
About 95 per cent of the community are on some form of benefit and the average annual income is sitting at $20,000, he says.
One woman who now has a home to call her own is Llani Reihana.
The 28-year-old was born into a gang and grew up surrounded by alcohol, drugs and crime.
She had her first child at 17.
The mother-of-four moved to Kaitaia and is now paying off her own home.
It would not be possible without the ability to refurbish existing homes like those from Glen Innes, Houghton says.
‘‘We’re thankful for the Glen Innes community for their support.
‘‘The trust has got into considerable debt, but you’re either going to commit to these families or not.
‘‘It’s worth it when you see the smiles on their faces.’’
Each family pays $190 a week towards the mortgage on their home and receives free medical care, early childhood education, mentoring, food such as fruit, vegetables, eggs and milk.
Conditions include working with the trust budgeting team and family mentoring programme for a minimum of five years, staying drug, alcohol and violence-free as well as taking part in an onsite course such as carpentry, decorating or landscaping.
Housing New Zealand spokeswoman Denise Fink says a further eight homes have been earmarked for the He Korowai Trust and will be relocated months.
The corporation prefers to remove properties instead of demolishing them and is looking to do this on future redevelopment projects in Auckland, she says.
‘‘Last year, due to the actions of a small number of local protesters supported by
coming people from outside of the community we were forced to cancel house relocations from Glen Innes.
‘‘[This] move was therefore an extremely important milestone for us, and we appreciate the support and cooperation of a wide range of community stakeholders in facilitating this.’’
Llani Reihana, holding her 6-month-old son Taniora, is getting her life back on track.
Sophie Cressy and Ricky Houghton of He Korowai Trust.
Refurbished Glen Innes state houses set up in Kaitaia.