Housing tenant lives in fear

ISOBEL EWING
Last updated 05:00 16/01/2013

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A New Plymouth woman living in fear of her neighbours says she is running out of people to turn to for help.

Joanna Tarr contacted the Taranaki Daily News after seeing a weekend story about a tenant who said Housing New Zealand had failed to address her requests for maintenance on her state house.

"I feel for her and can understand where she is coming from," Tarr said.

In the past two years, Tarr has asked Housing NZ to put in a fence around her Spotswood property and later asked to be moved into a vacant state house down the street after constantly feeling threatened by her neighbours, but has seen no action.

"You ring up and you're put through to a call system," she said.

"They record the complaint, say someone will get back to you and no-one does."

Housing NZ's general manager of tenancy services, Kay Read, said the organisation was unable to talk specifically about the situation for privacy reasons, but said safety concerns were taken seriously.

"We have been in contact with the tenant in recent months to discuss options. We are continuing to work with her," Read said.

Tarr wondered why Housing NZ did not simply move her and her family to one of the state houses down the street that had been empty for six months.

Some of the attacks against Tarr and her family include their swimming pool being slashed, the house being hit with eggs, someone knocking on her daughters' windows at night, and her car was broken into on Sunday.

She said there were 12 children living in the neighbouring house, ranging from about 9 years old to teenagers, and she had seen children as young as 10 carrying knives.

Tarr said she had been trying to resolve the problem for two years.

"It's got to the point where I can't let my kids play outside," she said.

"It makes me feel isolated in my own house."

Tarr said one of her daughters was intellectually disabled and suffered from severe eczema that was helped by sunlight, but if she went outside to play, abuse was yelled at her.

"The girls go outside and I can hear the kids mouthing off at them, saying ‘I'm going to get you; I'm going to kill you'," she said.

Recently she attempted to discuss the situation with the parents of the children, but said that was easier said than done.

"They get quite nasty. It's quite a scary situation to confront the parents."

Ms Tarr's mother, Audrey Weir, was sickened by the lack of action taken to ensure her daughter's family's safety.

"They're being terrorised," Weir said.

"It's disgusting that Housing New Zealand hasn't done anything."

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Tarr said she rang the police constantly but understood it was a difficult situation to handle.

"They tell me to ring if anything happens, but they can't do anything because they're minors."

Sergeant Kayanna Holley, of New Plymouth, confirmed Tarr's issues with her neighbours, with her earliest complaint lodged with the police in September 2011.

Holley said police had been in contact with Housing NZ about the incidents in late November and had left the situation in its hands.

- Taranaki Daily News

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