Pregnant, homeless, with two children
Jessica Bankart described it as the month from hell. At 30-weeks pregnant, the single mum was homeless and living in a car with her two children under the age of 2.
Her son asked to go home incessantly, she said. ‘‘... But there was no home to go back to.’’
The Auckland woman resorted to living in her car for a month while Work and Income tried to find her accommodation close to her midwife.
Her son would get so frustrated he would bang his head against the window – a habit he was yet to grow out, she said.
Bankart moved into a Housing New Zealand home on October 27 – just three weeks out from her due date.
While homeless, Bankart and her two children survived on fish and chips, takeaways, cheap pies and cereal out of the box.
Nappies and formula took up most of her benefit and she could not afford to keep a mobile phone, she said.
They ran out of clean clothes and had no shoes, she said. ’’The kids were always sick.’’
At night she would cover the windows with blankets, but the young family were woken up several times by loud passers-by, she said.
Bankart’s troubles began in August when she was living in a west Auckland rental.
A rent payment dispute with the landlord meant she had to leave the home at short notice and put most of her belongings in storage.
Work and Income organised emergency accommodation for her, but the young family was made to move at least three times during this time.
‘‘It was hard, moving everything over and over again with the kids. Some places had stairs so I had to carry my stuff up to the room.’’
Over the next five weeks, she was put up in motels and with a housing provider in the North Shore, where she was required to take budgeting and parenting courses.
Bankart said she missed the sessions because she had midwife appointments in West Auckland and had to care for her then ailing mother.
She was asked to leave the North Shore facility after failing to attend the courses and breaking house rules, according to Work and Income.
On October 27 she was allocated a Housing New Zealand home near her midwife.
Jessica Bankart sitting on the steps of her Housing New Zealand home she was allocated on October 27.