Topic: Housing

Rotorua homeless families raise concern over temporary accommodation

By Taroi Black
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

Josephine Wharerahi and her two children have been living in a government-funded, temporary accommodation unit for nearly two weeks. She says since moving in her children's health has deteriorated.

Ms Wharerahi, “My babies have been in and out of the hospital twice since we’ve been here. They've been diagnosed with chest infections, they are asthmatics, so it was the very first time they had to use their nebulizer in a year and a half.”

This room at the Aywon Motel was provided through LinkPeople, an organisation which supports people living in motels to find a permanent place to call home and the right support services they need for their health and well-being.

“We're actually not living in a flash motel that people make out to be. We're on 24-hour surveillance, our kids aren't even allowed to play in the courtyard.”

In a statement to Te Kāea LinkPeople said: "On Thursday 4 January, Josephine contacted us about the condition of the room. We immediately contacted the motel owner, who is the landlord, to arrange for the room to be cleaned."

She says she was then given advice by the Rotorua Hospital whether her son’s illness was caused by black mould.

“I showed them photos the day I moved in here of the black mould and that's what's causing the children’s illness. I told Link people and they said, "oh, you should air your room out every day which we do until late at night time but we have nahonaho (mosquito) that come in. Their response was, "We need the pieces of paper to bump you up on the list for Housing New Zealand"...their response was, "well really, at least you have a roof over your head for now”, Wharerahi said.

Te Kāea also contacted the Ministry of Social Development for comment. In a statement, the ministry said: "Since being made aware of these concerns, we have spoken with the motelier.  We appreciate his quick response to clean the unit and are working with him to ensure a satisfactory standard of accommodation is being provided going forward."

“Link gave an application for Inspire Property Management to fill out. That was the very first that they’ve ever given me to actually help me find a whare and they also have given me now their cards in case I need more help from them to contact them first”, Wharerahi said.

This family have also been living at the motel for only three days and have their own concerns.

Elisa Kokiri says, “There's the heater where my room is, where the lounge is there have been clothes that are from past tenants or past clients that have just stuffed them right through. I found cigarette butts underneath my boy’s beds when we moved in.”

LinkPeople says they have been working with the motel owner and MSD to address the quality of motel rooms at Aywon.