9 Jun 2016

Homeless plea 'falling on deaf ears'

7:30 pm on 9 June 2016

Some families already thousands in debt to Work and Income for emergency motel housing remain in the same situation, with their loans mounting.

In May, Checkpoint with John Campbell revealed that homeless people, living in Work and Income-approved emergency housing, were running up thousands, or even tens of thousands, of dollars in debt.

They're homeless because they don't have enough money for private rents, yet are often paying more than private rents for emergency housing.

Among them are Tuaine Murray and her family, who have been living in a motel for four weeks. The family owes about $8000 to Work and Income, and has recently received a letter from the agency telling them they must start paying their debt back from next week.

Ms Murray has been left wondering how she will afford to pay $27 a week to pay the debt back when she receives less than $500 a week.

She said she had pleaded with the government to find a home for herself, her husband and her 12-year-old son, who is in a wheelchair, but no one was listening.

"We've told our story so many times and it just seems to be falling on deaf ears. The more they don't listen the more we're accumulating this debt, and we're not going to be able to pay it."

The government has said that, from September, Work and Income would make free emergency housing available for a week.

It also said it was considering pre-booking motel rooms to help people in the most critical need of housing, and that those people might not need to pay the money back.

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