State house wait list leaves boarding house tenants languishing

by Eva Corlett / 06 September, 2017

Raymond Teinaki has been living at Favona Lodge with his family for seven years. Photo / Eva Corlett

Tenants at a South Auckland boarding house are waiting years for a state house, compared with just a few months a decade ago, its owner says.

Mike Ross, who owns Favona Lodge in Mangere, said his residents are almost all permanent tenants now because they have given up hope of finding a state house.

Raymond Teinaki gave up waiting for a state house years ago.

He has lived at Favona Lodge for seven years with his wife and his two teenage sons. All four of them live in one bedroom, while his 17-year-old daughter lives with her aunt nearby. They share a kitchen and showers with the other tenants.

"It's a good life here, but it's also boring because we don't have our freedom to do what we want," Mr Teinaki said.

"We're not happy with the boys sleeping in one room - we don't have any privacy, but otherwise we're happy."

Mr Teinaki has health problems including diabetes and heart disease, and they rely on his wife's earnings as a carer.

When they could no longer afford to pay market rent, they moved into the hostel to wait for a state house.

After five years he took himself off Housing New Zealand's waiting list because he lost trust in the system.

But his options are now limited.

"My wife has got $36,000 on Kiwisaver," he said. "If only [the government] could make housing affordable, especially with one income. We really can't afford anything.

"People are crying, especially in Auckland. They're suffering."

Mr Teinaki said he would like to see people in their own homes.

"That's what I call born free."

Mike Ross. Photo / Eva Corlett

Mr Ross said he had noticed a real jump in the time people have to wait for a state house.

Ten years ago, about one person every two months would get a state house, he said.

"They would get a house and then someone else would move into the room, usually another couple with one or two kids."

Now, they are waiting years.

Two of his tenants, both with children, have been on the waiting list for three years, he said.

More than half of the tenants have been there five years and some have lived there a decade.

The lodge is always full but people are desperate for better living environments, he said.

"There's just more customers than we can handle," Mr Ross said. "Most days the phone goes ten times a day - we don't have any room."

In a statement, the Ministry of Social Development said the median wait time for a state house for people on priority lists is just under two months.

Its figures show that in June, there were more than 5300 high priority people eligible for social housing - an increase of more than 38 percent in a year.

This article was originally published by RNZ.

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