Sports event means no room for homeless families

Janine Day (Newshub.)
Janine Day (Newshub.)

Homeless families in Tauranga have been forced to leave emergency accommodation in motels so that visitors for an intermediate school sports tournament can have their rooms.

Newshub spoke with one mum who's had to rely on the kindness of friends to keep a roof over her kids' heads.

The Bay of Plenty is anything but plentiful for people facing a housing crisis that's fast spreading to our regions.

And an annual sporting event that sees accommodation providers in Tauranga booked out months in advance is also seeing homeless families in emergency housing accommodation turfed out too.

Janine Day and her two boys - a 15-year-old with autism and a seven-year-old - are homeless.

In desperation, they're sleeping on the floor of a friend's house, in one room, with the 20-year-old woman who already lived in it.

"It's not ideal, but it's better than living in my car," says Ms Day.

Four months ago, Housing New Zealand set up Ms Day in a motel while she waited for a home.

She knew when she checked-in she'd have to leave during the Aims Games intermediate school sports event. But she says she didn't think it would be a problem because she'd been told she'd have a house by now.

"It's my job as a mother to give him a home," she says, crying.

Ms Day is not alone. Other families at her son's decile one primary are in the same situation. They even call themselves the "Homeless Clan". And it's not just during this two-week period that people have been sleeping in cars.

"At our peak in May we had 15 of our families who we classified as homeless," says Merivale School Principal Jan Tinetti.

Ms Tinetti has even had families stay with her. She says the housing crisis is taking a huge toll.

"Learning has gone way down in what those children can focus on; they are emotionally unstable," she says.

"I've got senior teachers here who now say they're doing more social work than what they are actual teaching."

In a statement the Ministry of Social Development said it was aware the Aims Games would have a major impact on people's emergency accommodation, but suggested families try to stay with friends and it would help wherever possible.

Labour MP Phil Twyford released a statement saying: "It's not good enough that the Government is basically shrugging its shoulders and making people go and stay with friends."

"I've learnt through this process that you can't wait for Ministry of Housing. There's just none," says Ms Day.

Her options are limited. She's full-time searching for private rentals. One she looked at last week had 85 other applicants. She missed out.


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