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Spirit Of Scrooge Alive And Well At Housing NZ

The latest action of Housing New Zealand clearly shows that the spirit of Scrooge is very much alive and well.

It appears that all tenants have just been sent a letter headed "Annual Rent Review" which says they are now to have their rent nearly doubled in some cases unless they reapply for an income related rent and qualify.

The letters come on the anniversary of their being congratulated for qualifying for an income related rent.

Beneficiaries have their rent direct credited by Work & Income NZ to Housing New Zealand. It is determined by the amount of benefit paid and is therefore a function of the tenant's income. Housing New Zealand knows this yet has given tenants until 24 January to have their application in, complete with declaration of income from Work & Income NZ. Another enclosed form is for their "employer" to complete - how absurd!

What a Christmas bombshell to give low income tenants, already stressed by their inability to enjoy the season which most people consider a time for festivities.

The new rents are due to start in April and instructions are given to amend automatic payments by then. If the rent is paid through WINZ, Housing NZ will do that themselves.

How accommodating of them, when in almost every case there is no need for anything to be done and both departments know that!

All this from a department that the Crown has stipulated as one of its objectives for Housing NZ Corp that it be an organisation that:"Exhibits a strong sense of social responsibility by having regard to the interests of the communities in which it operates."

This is an appalling abuse of power and is equivalent to telling all superannuitants that their situation is being reviewed and their income is changed unless they reapply.

It is likely that for various reasons many people will miss the deadline and have an unjustified rent increase imposed on them.

Ian Ritchie

Executive Officer Palmerston North Community Services Council

Spokesperson, Palmerston North Poverty Action Group. 06 354 3804 w, 06 3289 618 h

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