Topic: Housing

Is gentrification causing rise in evictions?

By Dean Nathan
  • Northland

The high rate of evictions from rental properties in Northland has brought rise to concerns that the emerging housing shortage is the result of a plan to gentrify Whangarei's lower-income families.

Rik Retimana is a solo parent.  The 90-day eviction notice served on him and his two boys, who've lived at their rental property for eight years, has all but ended. 

Retimana was told there was no issue with his family however they're being evicted so the property can be upgraded in order to increase the rent.

"It's a real burden for me that my sons and I could be homeless any day now.  I find it really painful when making enquiries about properties to be advised to move out of Whangarei."

Ange Tepania of The Taitokerau Emergency Housing Trust says it's another pressure that families facing homelessness have to deal with.

"It's almost like they're judged when they walk through the doors and that in itself can be detrimental to the mana of a person when all they're looking for is a right to be housed," she says.

Retimana explains, "When I actually looked on their website there were many properties available in Whangarei.  I was shocked, really shocked and that's when the penny dropped and I realised that they're evicting us out of Whangarei in order to upgrade this city for others."  

Retimana claims that it's gentrification in its simple form.

Tepania adds, "I'd like to think that's not happening in our community but the reality is it probably would be, where they'd offer houses to low-income whānau in not so great communities either."

Not far from the Retimana home is one of a number of venues in Whangarei where the homeless are known to congregate for shelter at night.

Retimana says, "We've fed a number of them and allow them the use of our tent and cooking equipment.  But now it seems we could soon be moving in with them."

The Retimana whānau are waiting for a reply from their local MP to their urgent request for help.