59, no job and living in a van

02:15, Aug 16 2014
John Martin Homeless
MOBILE HOME: Timaru man John Martin inside his van while he continues the long wait for social housing.

A Timaru man has been living in a van for most of this year while waiting to get into a social house.

John Martin, known to many in the region as Jaffa the clown, is 59, unemployed and in his words "a bit down in his luck".

A series of events, including a change in domestic circumstances, have forced him to live in a van.

"I can't do anything else while I am only getting $214 a week," said Martin, who is also battling a number of health issues.

"I can't go forward."

Martin said because he was classed as living in a car by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) he was told he is not as urgent as another "20 odd people on waiting lists".


However, he is taking 200mg of tramadol (a synthetic morphine) a day, which Martin said was an indication of just how unwell he is.

"If I am in this position think of how many others there must be."

The worst part was not being treated as a decent person, he said.

"No-one will talk to me.

"I call MSD and they tell me to talk to Housing New Zealand and then they tell me to call MSD."

MSD regional commissioner John Allen said Martin had been assessed as Priority A - as having a high need.

"We have received information from Mr Martin's doctor on his living and medical situation, and this has been factored into his application," he said.

However, the waiting list is constantly changing as Housing New Zealand and community housing providers look to match people and families with an available home that meet their needs, said Allen.

The Timaru Herald