Last week I met a whanau down Whangarei who were about to lose their house in a mortgagee sale. The details were different, but it sounded like another case that I was looking into up in the Hokianga, so I got my staff to check out what was going on, only to find out that these mortgagee sales were cropping up all over the north.
And it’s not just beneficiaries who are being affected here either – apparently it’s some pretty hard working families who have just been hit by hard times and rising prices, and been pushed over the edge.
One whanau in particular got into strife when the husband lost a job he’d had for nearly 20 years because the company was cutting back on staff. The wife was working, but wasn’t getting enough to cover the cost of the mortgage and the ever increasing food, power and petrol bills.
The husband went straight out looking for another job, but the only one he could get was a long way from home. He tried commuting to work but it cost too much and the transport wasn’t always reliable, so he ended up renting a place closer to his work.
And with the unsettled nature of their home life, the kids got sick and medical bills piled up, food prices kept skyrocketing but the income wasn’t, and with everything else going on as well, they missed some mortgage payments, and with penalties were soon out the back door to the tune of thousands of dollars.
Now apparently these folks were in a house they were buying off Housing NZ, but when HNZ flogged off their mortgages, the whanau ended up at the mercy of the private marketplace whose only concern is not the whanau, but getting their pound of flesh.
Seems to me that Housing NZ, as a government agency, should’ve talked to those families with mortgages, to make sure they understood what was going to happen, how they were going to be affected and what their options might be. But they didn’t, and now families all over the north are being forced out of their homes.
Some seriously cool people down at He Korowai Trust are trying to get something sorted for these whanau through the Minister of Housing, and I wish them well with their efforts; but given that a lot of these whanau are Maori, I will be keeping a close eye on how this plays out.
PS: I will also be keeping tabs on a couple of government agencies that knew what was going on, and could have stepped in to help these whanau out, but didn’t.