Sorry Wendy, but it isn’t your house to keep


Social housing tenant Wendy Ross feels “like a criminal”.

“I haven’t done anything wrong … I’ve worked, I’ve paid my taxes, I’ve raised my family, so why are they trying to make me leave my home?”

Last year we brought you the story of Ms Ross who, having lived in her three-bedroom Whanganui state house for more than 30 years and raised her family there, had been told she would have to move out.

She has now been given a date for her marching orders – July 18 – though that has only strengthened her resolve to remain in the house she considers her home. Ms Ross, who works for the minimum wage as a carer and lives alone, has been told by the Ministry of Social Development that she is no longer eligible for a state house.

The ministry told the Chronicle that social housing reforms introduced in 2014 were intended to ensure that “people living in social housing still need it”.

After 30 years, the ministry has decided that she no longer needs it. But Ms Ross believes she is being evicted because Housing New Zealand intends to sell the house, as it has others in Whanganui.

She said some of her neighbours had been told to leave, and other state houses in the Puriri St area where she lives are sitting empty.

“This isn’t about rehoming people who need help. I’m not preventing anyone else from living here. This is about greed,” she said.

No, this is about a landlord, that’s us, rationalising our property portfolio.  By selling excess housing in Whanganui, the government can purchase or build housing where they are needed.  

Ms Ross has been offered alternative accommodation – in a halfway house and in a complex of pensioner flats. She said neither option was suitable.”The pensioner flat is one-bedroom and it is so small that I can’t even get my furniture in it,” she said. “It’s really rough and there are broken windows and broken furniture everywhere. Besides, I’m not a pensioner yet.”

Still a few years off retirement age, Ms Ross said she was looking for full-time work but at the moment was working part-time. The rent for her state house takes up most of her pay.

“Good rental accommodation is hard to find in Whanganui and I definitely couldn’t afford anything at market rent, even if I could find anything.”

Ms Ross said she loved her home and was proud of it.

Although I understand that uninvited change is frequently unwanted, and 30 years may indeed make her feel like the home is hers, the fact is that it isn’t.   All across the country, people are being asked to move out because the owner of the home has other plans for the property.   Being a social housing tenant, a tenant of the state, is no different.

To top it all off, they’ve looked at the numbers and realised Wendy’s been taking the piss.  She actually does well enough not to need social housing at all.  Instead of living alone and rattling around in a 3 bedroom home at a highly subsidised rate, she can afford to live elsewhere and pay her own way.

So instead of whining, say “thank you” to the taxpayer for supporting you and your family up to this point, and it’s time for you to leave the nest.  At last.


NB:  Wendy, you could consider moving somewhere else also.  It’s something the rest of us have to do.  And it really does start at numbers that are extremely affordable.



– Wanganui Chronicle

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.