HNZ evicts family after injured mum loses job

SAM BOYER
Last updated 12:40 21/07/2012
Georgina TempletonNowhere to go: Georgina Templeton, who has been unable to ntsGworkntedo her job since injuring her shoulder working for Spotless Services, is behind on the rent on her
MAARTEN HOLL/FAIRFAX NZ
NOWHERE TO GO: Georgina Templeton, who has been unable to do her job since injuring her shoulder working for Spotless Services, is behind on the rent on her Strathmore state house. The family of eight have been issued with an eviction notice, but do not want to leave.

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A family of eight has been issued with an eviction notice from Housing New Zealand, after the main breadwinner was injured at work.

Georgina Templeton, 52, a cleaner for Spotless Services at Wellington Hospital, had to stop her job in April after injuring her shoulder lugging laundry at work.

Her employer for the past five years, Spotless Services, suspended her on unpaid leave while investigating her ACC claim - an investigation yet to be resolved about eight weeks after being submitted.

As an accredited ACC employer, Spotless Services acts on behalf of ACC to investigate their employees' claims.

The family living in the Strathmore home with Ms Templeton include four children under 13 and a dependant adult on a mental health benefit.

Ms Templeton has said she would return to work on light duties, but her employer has not offered her alternative work.

For the past five weeks - having used up her holiday pay on rent and bills - Ms Templeton has been unable to pay the rent on her home.

Spotless Services human resources general manager Vaughan Biggs said the company would not comment on Ms Templeton's case.

The family have been served with an eviction notice and were given a deadline of 5pm on Thursday to leave. But they refuse to budge, saying they have nowhere else to go.

"There's my daughter [26] and her two kids, my grandkids, one's an 8-year-old girl and a 5-year-old son. Then there's my 18-year-old son, my 8-year-old son and my 13-year-old grandson - his mother died back in 2007 so I've had him in my custody ever since, I'm his guardian.

"And my daughter who is 29, she's under mental health and I'm her caregiver," Ms Templeton said, sobbing. "[Now] I don't know if I'm going to be here tonight or out on the street."

A Housing NZ spokesman said that although the case was unfortunate, the eviction was unavoidable. "While we have some sympathy for Ms Templeton's position, she has a history of non-payment and rent arrears.

"In this case, despite several efforts working with the tenant to receive payment and resolve matters, we were unable to do so and reached the point where, as a last resort, we sought an order for termination," he said.

Ms Templeton, who as well as the shoulder injury has hearing difficulties, diabetes and has had a heart triple-bypass, accepted that she had not been an ideal tenant, but thought Housing NZ could be more compassionate.

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She admitted missing four weeks rent payment in 2007, but said the money was used to pay for her daughter's funeral.

Before her shoulder injury she had thought she had squared off her previous debt. She has offered to pay back her current debt at $50 a week. But the Housing NZ spokesman said it was too late, with Ms Templeton now owing $3736, as well as $2772 written-off a Paraparaumu home rented in 2003 after she was declared bankrupt.

The Service and Food Workers' Union and the office of local MP Annette King have lobbied Housing NZ to reverse the eviction, and Ms Templeton's GP has also written a letter in her support.

- The Dominion Post

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