27 Jun 2012

Family frustrated at Housing New Zealand call centre

12:30 pm on 27 June 2012

A family of six that has been waiting three months for a state house in Auckland says it has been a continuing battle to make contact with Housing New Zealand.

An 0800-number is now the only way the Housing New Zealand clients can contact the agency unless they have an emergency or make an appointment to visit its offices.

Mother of four Mata says she has been calling the centre but when she eventually gets through she is told there is no information on the application.

The family is staying in a 3 square metre room in a boarding house, with three beds on the floor to sleep all six people. They share kitchen and bathroom with 25 other families.

Mata, who does not want her last name used in case it causes problems at the boarding house, says she's confused and doesn't know what's happening with her family's application.

Mata says the family moved to Auckland from Samoa four years ago to give their children a better education but they were evicted from their private rental accommodation three months ago because their income dropped, and they could no longer afford it.

Mata says they first applied for a house in March but it was denied because the application was incomplete.

Monte Cecilia Housing Trust social worker Maxine Pairama has assisted the family to re-apply for a house and says she cannot understand why it is taking so long.

In a statement, Housing New Zealand says it is aware of the family's current accommodation and their case is being processed.

It says the call centre system is in a bedding-in period and it aims to provide more consistency in the way it deals with people who need somewhere to live.

Housing New Zealand's chief executive Lesley McTurk told Nine to Noon the agency is working with the family and is waiting on some information so their need can be assessed.

Figures released by the Labour Party last month said of 119,694 calls made to the number in April 53,054 were unanswered.

Ms McTurk said the agency has acknowledged teething problems and is progressively making improvements in the time it takes to answer calls, the average now being just over two minutes.

She says the call centre is a 24-hour-a-day service and encourages people to call at off peak times.