Heart oper­a­tion, then sleep­ing in his car

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By RHI­AN­NON McCON­NELL

A lack of emer­gency hous­ing in Porirua led to a sick­ness ben­e­fi­ciary hav­ing to sleep in his car for a few days af­ter hav­ing a heart oper­a­tion.

Rod­well Ama, 42, was born and bred in Porirua. He had worked in the same job at Moore Wil­son’s since he was 16.

But the fa­ther-of-four said the sys­tem had failed him.

Last May he was forced to quit his job af­ter hav­ing heart prob­lems and need­ing aor­tic valve surgery. He was put on the sick­ness ben­e­fit and has had two op­er­a­tions.

‘‘I couldn’t work any more. I couldn’t lift or do any­thing. You pay your tax from when you start and when you ask for help they only give you a lit­tle,’’ he said.

‘‘I never ex­pected this to hap­pen and I just need a bit of help with that. They said no.’’

In March he left his flat­ting sit­u­a­tion and turned to Hous­ing New Zealand for help.

The govern­ment agency said he was low pri­or­ity and put him on a wait­ing list. That was three months ago.

‘‘I didn’t want to be a bur­den to any­one. I thought I’d get a house of my own and then maybe I can get the kids over.

‘‘I’ve worked all my life and haven’t asked for much and then they put me on a list.

‘‘All I wanted was just help. That’s all, just to reach out, but they don’t trust you and they don’t be­lieve you. Some people take ad­van­tage and we are the ones who cop it.’’

Only a few weeks af­ter his sec­ond heart oper­a­tion, Ama lived in his car for a few days be­fore turn­ing to the Sal­va­tion Army.

He was placed in an emer­gency home in Strath­more, 30 kilo­me­tres away from his fam­ily, friends and sup­port net­work.

‘‘I’m miss­ing my kids. You miss that time out with them.

‘‘As a fa­ther you love your kids, but you just have to wait and see and wait till the phone rings and they [Hous­ing New Zealand] have a house for you. Some­times you just have to bite your fin­ger.’’

Ama said he be­lieved there were other people in Porirua in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion.

‘‘There is not enough emer­gency houses. [Hous­ing New Zealand] look in Welling­ton, but they are not look­ing in Porirua.’’

Ama said he had one more surgery planned in six months’ time, but hoped to be back in work by next Fe­bru­ary.

‘‘I’m not say­ing I want to stay in this place. Ten years from now I could have my own house and move on. I know that’s what I can do.’’

Last week, Ama fi­nally re­ceived the call he had been wait­ing for – Hous­ing New Zealand had a home for him to move into next week in Can­nons Creek.

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