Christchurch mum stuck next to alleged gang-pad shines light on social housing shortages

Author
Amber Allott, Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Thu, 25 Jun 2020, 4:28PM
A Christchurch social housing tenant claims her neighbours built this shield after two shootings at the property.
A Christchurch social housing tenant claims her neighbours built this shield after two shootings at the property.

Christchurch mum stuck next to alleged gang-pad shines light on social housing shortages

Author
Amber Allott, Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Thu, 25 Jun 2020, 4:28PM

A Christchurch mum who claims she has been stuck next to a gang-pad for a year says Kainga Ora hasn’t taken her fears seriously.

The woman – who doesn’t want to be named for her own safety – has been left with bullet holes in her garage door and a shotgun spray-pitted fence, after two firearms incidents at a neighbouring community housing property.

She has a five-month-old baby.

The first shooting happened in April last year – on her birthday.

“I told them I needed a transfer then, but I’ve been on the waiting list for over a year.

“Since I’ve had my baby there’s been another shooting where bullets came onto the property.”

Her neighbours eventually put up a corrugated iron shield in front of their property, blocking their windows from the street. After a second shooting in early February, the woman said she has been living in fear of rival gangs striking again.

“I’ve never called the police myself. I don’t want to call the police, then have to deal with living next door to gang members after the police leave.”

Her tension has come to a head this week, when a moving truck arrived.The neighbours told her they were being transferred to another Kainga Ora property.

She said it doesn’t seem fair.

“I’m scared to stay in this property. I have other kids that live with my mum, but my mum won’t actually bring them here because she’s too scared.

“Even though they’ve moved, I’m still stuck here. People are going to come here looking for them, this is still their known address. Just because they’ve moved, doesn’t now make the property safe."

The Ministry of Social Development has confirmed the tenant is Priority A for a transfer – considered at risk.

This includes households with a severe and persistent housing need that much be addressed immediately. She has been giving a level of 14, where 20 is considered the highest priority.

When first contacted, Kainga Ora claimed while she has been on the transfer waiting list for over a year, the first record they have of her fearing for her safety was this week. But after questioning from Newstalk ZB – they backtracked on those claims 24 hours later.

Area Manager Tim Harvey said in a statement it emerged through their records an email was sent in April 2019 by the woman’s then-Tenancy Manager to the Ministry of Social Development – supporting a transfer due to safety concerns.

In June 2019, they say she then advised her then-Tenancy Manager she had completed an application for the Transfer Register.

However, they say since then, the tenant didn't convey to them any concerns for her safety - despite them getting in touch with her twice.

Harvey said the issue with the neighbouring property has been resolved - and the people she was concerned about are no longer there.

“We appreciate there was a communication breakdown and opportunities to raise safety issues since June 2019 were missed both by Kāinga Ora staff and [the tenant].

“We are planning to meet with her as soon as possible to have a conversation to establish her situation, and better understand her needs and concerns.

We will support her however possible after this meeting."

The case has shone a light on just how tight the supply of affordable social housing is across the country.

The latest data from the Ministry of Social Development shows in Canterbury there are 8185 public housing properties, with 8082 were occupied as of March.This means there are 103 vacant, with 1502 families on housing or transfer waiting lists.

The contrast is even more stark in Auckland, with 611 vacant properties, with 7604 families who need them.

The Ministry’s data shows the mean time it's taking to house a person is 213 days – or just over seven months.