Families affected by asthma and whooping cough are living in damp homes in Raetihi, and others are in overcrowded homes or unsuitable accommodation, and struggling to access social housing and home improvement funding.

A community discussion on social issues has uncovered an urgent need for safe and secure social housing in the central plateau region. Local iwi Uenuku is teaming up with social service providers to address the immediate problem and consider longer term solutions.

The discussion with the Regional Commissioner for the Ministry of Social Development, Gloria Campbell, included community organisations, social service providers and members of the Raetihi and wider community.

Uenuku Charitable Trust called the meeting to focus on longstanding social development issues including health, housing, incomes, education and skills training. Uenuku Kāhui Pou project manager Honey Winter said un-met housing needs emerged as an urgent and serious issue.

“We didn’t realise how desperate some of our whānau are in regard to social issues affecting their lives, particularly housing,” Mrs Winter said. “There are at least seven families known to us who are desperate for social housing. Some are living in unsuitable accommodation, some in overcrowded homes where a couple of families with several children are sharing a two or three-bedroom house.

“Part of the problem is the expense of rental accommodation and the fact it is the winter season when rentals are at a premium for skiers. Whānau are not registering their need for assistance on Housing NZ’s social housing register or emergency housing list. Instead, they just move in with family. But it is essential that they report their situation so that Housing NZ is aware and can provide assistance.”

Following the community meeting, Housing NZ was approached about untenanted social housing properties in Raetihi that will need to be renovated if they are to be used to meet under-reported housing needs.

“Housing NZ is prepared to help if we can show there is a need,” Mrs Winter said. “The community must work together to ensure eligible whānau are on the Social Housing register managed by MSD/Work and Income. A social housing assessment can be completed over the phone.”

Insulation and retro-fits were another area of significant need, outstripping current Government funding allocations. The meeting heard about families with community cards in damp houses with family members suffering from asthma and whooping cough, who were told they were not eligible for funding. Following the Raetihi meeting, Te Puni Kōkiri was approached and would like to speak directly with anyone having difficulty accessing services. Please contact Marie McKay on 06 348 1400 (Whanganui based) or Graham (Tinker) Bell (Taumarunui based).

For information on social housing assistance, go to http://housing.msd.govt.nz/housing-options/social-housing/application-process.html or contact Honey Winter on 027 5444 744, or email enquiries@uenuku.iwi.nz



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