Fam­i­lies in need ‘fall­ing through cracks’

Four Cromwell vine­yards have come to­gether to cre­ate the re­gion’s first walk­ing wine trail. See story, page 18.

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

Fam­i­lies in Cen­tral Otago and Queen­stown Lakes are ‘‘fall­ing through the cracks’’, liv­ing in cars, un­der bridges while oth­ers are on the brink of los­ing their homes.

A group of in­ter-agency so­cial work­ers met with Waitaki MP Jac­qui Dean and painted a bleak pic­ture of how some peo­ple in the re­gion were liv­ing.

One fam­ily had just sold their wed­ding rings to pay bills be­cause the man was on ACC and only re­ceiv­ing about $400 a week, while his wife was on un­paid ma­ter­nity leave with a new­born.

‘‘He has just had a work ac­ci­dent and can’t work. They have to live on $418 a week but their out­go­ings which are trimmed to the ab­so­lute bone are about $885 a week and they have sold ev­ery­thing right down to their wed­ding rings,’’ a so­cial worker said.

Fam­ily Works prac­tice man- ager Rachel MacA­nally de­scribed a woman liv­ing in her car out­side her former part­ner’s house so she could see their chil­dren, as she could not find af­ford­able ac­com­mo­da­tion.

‘‘We have got fam­i­lies liv­ing in cars, we have a woman, the dad has the care of the chil­dren be­cause she can’t af­ford hous­ing so she lives out the front in her car so she can see her chil­dren. These things are new to our area. We didn’t have this stuff go­ing on and we have got no re­source. We have got noth­ing . . . These cases used to be rare. You used to have a one-off here and there. You’d hear sto­ries of peo­ple liv­ing un­der the bridge and you’d say, ‘they do not’. But they are now. You see them now.’’

So­cial hous­ing was ‘‘thin on the ground’’ and the re­gion was un­af­ford­able for peo­ple on low in­comes.

‘‘We find peo­ple work­ing ser­vic­ing vine­yards and or­chards who are on a low in­come but are un­able to find any­where to live.’’

‘‘Peo­ple are hav­ing to move from the area, chil­dren have to change schools . . .This is not the place to come if you are look­ing for a new start in life but we need peo­ple to service the town.’’

Dean agreed more so­cial hous­ing was needed in the re­gion.

She en­cour­aged peo­ple to con­tact her of­fice for help, say­ing while she did not have pow­ers, she ‘‘could open doors’’.

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