The eviction of an alleged drug dealer from a state house has raised questions over Housing New Zealand’s role in society.
The Government agency says it can’t be seen to condone illegal activity, but the woman’s lawyer says Housing New Zealand’s job is to house people, not play judge and jury.
The woman, whom we are calling “Kelly”, is facing eviction from her Housing New Zealand home. She has children, aged eight and under.
“I’m sad, broken for my kids because they’ll have nowhere to stay, and just now and then I have my breakdowns where I want to cry,” she says.
Kelly says she wasn’t given a reason why she had to leave – Housing New Zealand doesn’t have to give one in its 90-day notices.
She suspects it’s because of drug charges she’s facing, which are still before the courts.
Her lawyer says regardless of all that, it’s no way for Housing New Zealand to act.
“To throw a woman into the street with four infant children, with no support, unable to get anywhere else to live simply because there’s an arbitrary decision made to evict her – in my view, that is wrong,” says lawyer Michael Meyrick.
It is wrong. But let me make it easier for Michael. If “Kelly” had been at the pub boozing all day with the kids at home, CYF would have come in and taken the kids away. I see no difference in this case. If your mum is dealing drugs from the house, she’s endangering her kids.
“It is Housing New Zealand’s job to house people; it is the courts’ job to determine guilt or innocence and determine necessary punishment,” says Auckland Action Against Poverty’s Alastair Russell.
Kelly says she’s been a good tenant.
“I pay my rent on time and I’m looking after the yards and just trying to keep it as tidy as possible.”
She pays her rent on time. No surprise there; she’s running a drug shop from a government home.
In a statement, Housing New Zealand said ending a tenancy is a last resort.
It went on to say: “Police executed a search warrant at her house and found drugs, and the tenant admitted she had been selling up to 60 tinnies daily, with a value of $1200 a day.”
Housing New Zealand said the activity took place in a community densely populated with schools and churches and there were concerns the tenant had children living with her.
Exactly. Call in CYF.
Its decision to evict has been backed by the Tenancy Tribunal, but her lawyer says it lacks compassion.
“They’ve demonstrated themselves as an organisation as one that doesn’t see itself having a social responsibility and I think, as a state agency, it ought to have,” says Mr Meyrick.
If Kelly is evicted, she could seek help from other housing providers, but wouldn’t be eligible for a Housing New Zealand property for another year.
Labour keeps harping on about homeless people, but we never actually get to know how many of them are “un-housable” due to their criminal past, their mental health or other societal problems.
It’s very easy: want to live in a government supplied home? Look after your family and don’t break the law.