10 Feb 2016

After five years, family gets state house

1:19 pm on 10 February 2016

A family of six who have been sleeping on the floor of a friend's house are set to move into a West Auckland state house nearly five years after they first applied.

State house in Titahi Bay, Wellington.

In Auckland, there are 1377 priority A applicants waiting for social housing. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Since last October, Hami and his partner Leah (not their real names), who have four children between them, have been listed as the highest priority on the Ministry of Social Development's housing register.

RNZ raised their problems with the Minister for Social Housing at the end of January and asked further questions yesterday.

The Ministry said it contacted the family about a house yesterday.

They have been offered a four-bedroom house in West Auckland.

Hami said he had been on the social housing register since March 2011. The ministry said one offer of a house was turned down because of a previously undisclosed medical condition.

The family had been renting a private house but their landlord asked them to leave in October so the house could be sold, and it was too expensive for them to cover the cost of another private rental with bonds.

They have been living in a flat with a friend but Hami told RNZ it was infested with fleas, and was dirty and mouldy.

He said his family of six shared a few mattresses squashed together in a single room.

Leah said she feared for her children, who already suffered a number of respiratory problems, which doctors blamed on their former rental house.

They had many folders of documentation, including a letter from Housing New Zealand about their place on the housing register dating back to 2011.

Community groups, NGOs and doctors worried the health of the children was at risk had written desperate letters urging Housing New Zealand to find the family a home.

Iraq-born Hami came to New Zealand with his family as a refugee after spending three years living in a tent in Jordan. He worked full time here until a back injury left him relying on crutches and ACC.

He told RNZ he was frustrated with the system, saying paperwork sent to Housing New Zealand got lost and communication was contradictory.

In Auckland alone, 1337 applicants for social housing were listed as priority A and 960 as priority B, at 31 December last year.