'Stuck' family's plea

BOXED IN: Danielle Noyer says her son Iziyah needs a safe space to play.
BOXED IN: Danielle Noyer says her son Iziyah needs a safe space to play.

Danielle Noyer says her family's state home is beginning to feel like a prison cell.

The 22-year-old moved into the top storey of a CBD Housing New Zealand apartment building in Auckland with her partner and two young children in July.

Her son Iziyah Moemai had just been diagnosed with chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) at the time and the family was considered "Priority A" under Housing New Zealand criteria.

HAPPY DAYS: Iziyah loved the swings before he was diagnosed with an immune disorder.
HAPPY DAYS: Iziyah loved the swings before he was diagnosed with an immune disorder.

CGD is an immune cell disorder that leads to long-term and recurrent infections.

Two-year-old Iziyah had a bone marrow transplant in August because of the severity of the condition.

A third of his lung had already been removed due to pneumonia.

The boy's immune system is still very weak so public playgrounds, parks and even the elevator to the family's 12th floor apartment are off-limits because of the risk of infection.

Iziyah is also legally blind and relies on a small tunnel of vision in his left eye.

Miss Noyer would love to be able to let Iziyah play outside but would need ground level accommodation with an outdoor area.

"It's so limiting for him. He needs somewhere he can get out and explore."

She acknowledges that Housing NZ moved her family to accommodation close to the hospital within a week of her application for assistance.

"It was pretty upsetting for all of us but Housing New Zealand were great in the beginning, so quick.

"We didn't apply because he was sick, we applied because we had nowhere else to go. His sickness just added more stress."

Miss Noyer requested a transfer to ground-level accommodation when Iziyah came out of hospital in November. She included letters from a Starship paediatrician, social workers and her local MP.

The Blind Foundation offered verbal support.

But Miss Noyer's request was denied.

A tenancy manager told her the family was now "Priority C" and would not make the waiting list, Miss Noyer says.

"We're stuck, we've tried everything. Our only option is to rent privately but we just can't afford it.

"They're saying we're not homeless and whether the house is suitable or not is another issue. It was hard enough to go through the transplant and now it's just ongoing."

Housing New Zealand regional manager Neil Adams says the organisation undertakes housing needs assessments for tenants applying to rent or who wish to transfer properties.

Tenants whose needs are the most urgent will always be offered available properties first, he says.

He says Housing New Zealand gave the Noyer family two months to provide information so the staff could evaluate their needs but has not received all the documents.

"We've spoken again to the family and hope to receive the information we need so we can let them know the outcome," he says.

Blind Foundation developmental orientation and mobility practice advisor Mark Gear says hands-on experiences are essential for children, particularly those who are blind or have low vision.

"Learning about the world around you without vision is far more challenging when you cannot touch and explore it. Any child with a vision impairment would definitely benefit from having access to a suitable outdoor play environment."

Auckland City Harbour News