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by Chris Tobin

Two Housing New Zealand tenants in the Timaru district are having their cases reviewed as a result of the $100million methamphetamine contamination debacle.

Housing units almost ready

Housing New Zealand intends to finish building two housing units in MacDonald St, Timaru, before Christmas, a spokesperson says.

“One at Old North Rd is also expected to be ready mid-January, and four units in Argyle St are on track for completion by the end of May 2019.”

Timaru is one of 15 regions throughout the country to receive new homes as part of a project to build 155 state homes.

The spokesperson said Housing NZ was still looking at further development options in Timaru, including a site in Wai-iti Rd where a house, since demolished, was extensively damaged by fire in July.

Two one-bedroom homes in Andrew St and two-bedroom homes in Canada and Orbell Sts were completed earlier this year.

Between July 2013 and May 2018, nearly 5000 Housing NZ properties were tested for meth contamination, but Housing NZ used testing guidelines that had little merit.

As a result, $100million was spent in unnecessary tests and clean-up and many tenants disposed of personal property for fear of meth contamination.

About half tested positive in the 2013-18 period, but the test was 10 times lower than a new standard which has been in place since May.

“At this stage there are two tenants from South Canterbury district whose cases are currently being worked on as part of Housing New Zealand’s programme, but they are not yet at the assistance payment stage,” Andrew Clapham, head of Housing NZ’s meth assistance programme, said.

“There are none in the Mackenzie or Waimate districts.

“Nationally, 55 assistance packages have been provided thus far and another 33 payments made in the week ending December 7.

“These payments total approximately $415,000 and range from $1000 to $18,000.

“It will remain so until there are no more people identified or that come forward.”

Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford. PHOTO: NZ HERALD

Housing Minister Phil Twyford said the Government was committed to putting the matter right because the “systemic failure of Government had far-reaching consequences for many people”.

Auckland Action Against Poverty has called on the Government to prioritise finding a home for evicted tenants, some of whom it said were living in 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,” Ricardo Menendez March said.

“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.”

Findings
Key findings in Housing New Zealand’s methamphetamine report of September.

  • Housing NZ has failed, in some individual cases, to follow the principles of natural justice, by applying its suspension policy without providing sufficient detail to allow tenants to respond meaningfully to a notification that they were being considered for suspension.
  • Housing NZ must continue to improve its policy development and implementation to ensure that it takes appropriate care when interacting with tenants, who are some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
  • Housing NZ failed to take a customer-centred approach when developing its methamphetamine management policies.