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Government needs to house meth test evicted tenants

Minister Phil Twyford announced that the first batch of recipients have been receiving compensation for being evicted from their Housing New Zealand homes because of faulty meth tests. The compensation will be $8,000 on average, and 52 people from the 800 tenancies affected have already received the cash sum. Auckland Action Against Poverty is calling on the Government to prioritise finding a home for the many evicted tenants who are still living in the streets, cars, and motels.

“While Auckland Action Against Poverty welcomes the increased cash compensation amount, which was originally sitting at an average of $3000, we know that for the tenants who are still homeless having permanent housing is the only thing that will deliver justice”, says Ricardo Menendez March, Auckland Action Against Poverty.

“The biggest damage done to the tenants was the loss of their home and personal belongings because of the faulty meth tests. Cash compensation will go some way towards addressing the material hardship evicted tenants have been put into because of the evictions, but the money will not be able to be properly used unless they are re-housed.

“We are calling on the Government to build and repair enough state homes to make them available for the affected tenants. For people who are homeless, the cash compensation will end up eaten away by the expenses that come from living without access to cooking facilities, bedrooms, or other basic amenities. The cash compensation, which is supposedly intended to go towards replacing lost household items, will not be able to used that way if people remain without a home.

“Additionally, many evicted tenants have accumulated thousands of dollars worth of debt with the Ministry of Social Development. Minister Phil Twyford needs to be working alongside the Ministry of Social Development to wipe the debt accumulated during the period between the eviction and the compensation. Otherwise, the cash compensation will end up towards repaying a debt that was wrongly put on people who needed assistance.

“Not only is it the socially responsible thing to do, but it makes fiscal sense for the Government to provide permanent housing for the evicted tenants. The Government is currently spending thousands of dollars each week for each tenant that has to spend a week in emergency accommodation. This is money that is going into the pockets of motels instead of a Government asset that also provides security of tenure for the people affected by the faulty meth testing.

“The Government has an opportunity to deliver justice to tenants whose lives were turned upside down by the policies of the previous National Government. Without addressing one of the most important well-being factors, which is access to permanent housing, a cash compensation won’t fix the damage that was done because of the faulty meth contamination regime.”

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