Brownlee 'investigated' homeless

Last updated 06:40 23/09/2012

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A week after Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee apologised for saying he was "sick and tired" of complaints from quake-hit Cantabrians, it has emerged he has investigated people who complained about being homeless to make sure they got the help they needed.

Brownlee told Parliament's finance and expenditure select committee some residents, who gained national media attention, hadn't presented the facts.

"I can tell you there are at least two cases that have been prominent where all of the facts were clearly not known."

Brownlee also said "there have been investigations made" to get people legitimately left homeless into a "better position".

He told the Sunday Star-Times that officials had made inquiries, describing what was presented on TV as not being "complete".

"In one case, they had arranged accommodation privately and refused Housing NZ assistance at the time they went on TV complaining," he said, and a second case uncovered inconsistencies around the reasons given by a resident who complained about still using a portaloo.

"At that time there was a huge amount of suggestion there were accommodation shortages, and things were dire."

Brownlee said the Government had worked tirelessly to ensure assistance was available to the thousands of Cantabrians whose lives and houses had been shattered, and the inquiries were only started to ensure people were receiving all the assistance they were eligible for.

"We have quite significant assistance available, so if people present like that, you want to make sure they know what they are entitled to. We made efforts to find out what we could do to help."

Brownlee issued an apology earlier this month after saying he was "sick and tired" of the "carping and moaning" from technical category 3 residents, but said that although he sympathised he was also angry at the way some people characterised the Government as uncaring.

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- Sunday Star Times

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