Heart operation, then sleeping in his car
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.