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.
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’’.