Sub-standard housing threatens health of families this winter

By Dean Nathan
  • Northland

Winter has arrived,  bringing with it rain and cold temperatures. The negative impact of these conditions are amplified for those who live without power, warm water or even a steady water supply in their homes.

Helyn Tavitas sink bench is an example of some of the conditions people are faced with.  Due to the lack of money she has lived here for seven years without power, running water or insulation in her shed.

She says, “Its about money when it comes down to it about money.  Well maybe they could provide some sort of loan with cheaper interest rates for people like us because you know there are people and families out there with young children who are sick all the time.”

It’s also been five years since Helyn began caring for her granddaughter Alia who suffers from autism and adhb.

“Theres people out there who don't have the family support.   They gotta do it on their own like this one I don't have any respite.”

The chief executive of Habitat for Humanity says Helyn is not alone as substandard housing is massive but is a hidden issue in northland.

He says, “Helyns case for us is one example of what we think hundreds of families and certainly thousands of individuals throughout northland who are living in extremely sub standard housing.”

When the township of Kaeo flooded seven years ago the council determined that her home was uninhabitable.  Since then she has struggled to sell the old home for half its value while continuing to pay off the mortgage.  With the remainder of funds she purchased her shed to live in.

Now with winter upon us and no insulation Helyn has already begun feeling the cold coming into her shed.

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