When Ashley* came to Monte Cecilia asking for help she and her family had moved from WINZ transitional housing to a private rental but found themselves paying $810 per week for a Mt Roskill property that was run down and not even painted properly.

There was a sewage pipe running through the kitchen, the landlord had ignored calls to fix numerous things about the property and the high rent cost and unhealthiness of the property put Ashley’s family is a real bind.

Ashley says their daughter had a birthday and they couldn’t even afford a present or a cake to celebrate and her kids weren’t going to school because they couldn’t afford to send them with lunches and were afraid that Oranga Tamariki would take them away.

They tried to escape the situation by going on the social housing wait list but no offer came and when they asked to be put back into emergency housing they were declined.

“We’ve been seeing a lot of this lately,” the Monte Cecilia team member assigned to the case says. “There’s pressure on families to move from emergency housing to private rentals, but all their money ends up going to the rental and bills and nothing is left to feed themselves and their kids with. WINZ is able to offer emergency housing, but it’s up to the discretion of the case manager in question.”

The Monte Cecilia team accompanied Ashley to the WINZ office and helped her negotiate emergency accommodation, which she says is a huge relief to the family.

Since then they have moved into a two-bedroom emergency house in Royal Oak, are able to afford food and their children are back in school.

*not her real name