Disabled fear they will lose home

LAUREN PRIESTLEY
Last updated 05:00 18/06/2014
Allyson Hamblett
Lauren Priestley
MY HOME: Allyson Hamblett of Ponsonby is worried about state housing tenancy reviews.
Huhana Hickey
Lauren Priestley
NOT ENOUGH: Wheelchair user Huhana Hickey says there is a serious lack of accessible housing to rent.

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There's nothing out there for us.

That's the biggest concern for disabled state home tenants staring down the barrel of tenancy reviews that start on July 1.

The reviews aim to free up more state houses by moving tenants who can afford it into the private market.

Twenty-seven of the 780 tenants involved in the first Ministry of Social Development review have a permanent disability.

The concern, should they be asked to move, is that there is not enough accessible housing to meet demand, Allyson Hamblett says.

The 45-year-old has cerebral palsy and has lived in her Ponsonby state house for 15 years.

"I know the statistics, I know quite a few people who are disabled and in state housing.

"There's a real shortage because people don't understand what accessibility is. We've got to change that."

Hamblett works at the Spark Centre of Creative Development and is the chairwoman of the CCS Disability Action Auckland local advisory board.

She says standing up and being counted is important for people in the disability sector.

"The voices of disabled people are lost. We've got things to say but we often just get ignored or overlooked."

Wheelchair user Dr Huhana Hickey, who has primary progressive MS, is included in the first round of reviews.

Sporadic work, health problems and transport difficulties are issues for people with disabilities, she says.

Everything necessary to live an independent life is linked to housing, the AUT research fellow says.

"There's so many disabled people just screaming for housing. They reckon they're going to encourage the private sector to build accessibly but it isn't going to happen right now.

"At the moment I'm well enough to work but in another year I might have to take a year off. We all have the instability of our conditions."

CCS Disability Action regional manager Auriole Ruka says her organisation has been flooded with requests for help from state housing tenants concerned about the reviews.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says tenants have nothing to fear. The idea of the reviews is to make sure people who need housing most are able to get it, she says.

People who can afford market rent will be encouraged to move into other housing, she says.

"We thought long and hard about excluding the elderly and people with disabilities from review.

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"No disabled or elderly people will be asked to leave social housing and obtain private housing in 2014 unless they are actively willing to do so."

CCS Disability Action hosts a monthly housing working group at its Royal Oak office. Email Jacqui.Carlson@CCSDisability Action.org.nz or call 09 625 9378 to take part.

- Auckland City Harbour News

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