Family living in shed offered home

BLEAK START: A mother holds a six-day-old baby, with her 34-month-old playing in a pop-up tent in the refurbished shed they rent.
BLEAK START: A mother holds a six-day-old baby, with her 34-month-old playing in a pop-up tent in the refurbished shed they rent.

A Christchurch mother living with her baby and toddler in a converted shed has been offered a state house. 

The mum gave birth to a son by caesarean section on Friday night. By Monday she had returned to the shed that she has lived in since 2013.

The $170 a week shed the woman and her children were living in had a wall to partly separate a kitchen bench and an improvised play area from a bed and bassinet.

The outbuilding was "cold and damp and it's really hard to go to the toilet and do the washing and cooking. It's like, a long time camping for us already. I'm trying to manage things for my kids", she said.

After her plight was highlighted in The Press, she has been offered a state house to live in.

Ministry of Social Development (MSD) spokeswoman Marama Edwards said Housing New Zealand matched the woman to a property yesterday and would offer it to her this morning.

"We've been working very closely with this mum and social housing providers to find her a suitable house."

Edwards said the woman was receiving the full range of financial assistance available from Work and Income, and MSD would "continue to support her any way we can". 

Housing New Zealand Area Manager Fraser Benson said the woman was identified to be moved to the top of the waiting list this week and matched with a two-bed home yesterday.

''The applicant was to be offered the property this morning and if accepted, she should be able to move in as soon as the property is available,'' he said.

Benson said 99 per cent of Housing New Zealand homes are occupied in Christchurch.

Te Puawaitanga Trust's Tamara Williams has been acting for the woman.

The woman had limited finance and the heat pump was only turned on when she could afford to pay the bills.

"You wouldn't believe the hardship", Williams said.

The mother, who could not be named for personal safety reasons, said it was hard to secure private housing on her welfare benefit. "They always decline me and I give up, because I feel I'm wasting my time."

Sensitive "family problems" had made it hard for her to work. She had managed it with her eldest child but the unexpected second pregnancy left her "stuck".

The woman came to New Zealand from the Philippines more than three years ago and has since become a New Zealand resident.

She said she applied to join the Housing New Zealand waiting list as soon as she found she was pregnant a second time.

The Press