Give me a chance, pleads solo mum

No carpet, no heating, no opening windows

OLIVIA CARVILLE
Last updated 05:00 29/01/2013
Amber Breiter
DEAN KOZANIC/Fairfax NZ

BARE BONES: The housing crisis in Christchurch has left mother-of-two Amber Breiter with no choice but to live in a single garage.

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You don't have to look far to find a Christchurch family living in poverty.

Amber Breiter and her 1-year-old daughter inhabit a standalone garage in Linwood.

There is no heating. There is no carpet. And the windows do not open.

The 22-year-old mother was renting a two-bedroom house in Waltham last month with her daughter, Bella, and 4-year-old son, Jesse, but said she had to give it up because she could not afford the rent, power and food bills.

A week before she moved out, she rang Housing New Zealand and asked to be put on the waiting list.

Breiter moved into her mother's shed with her daughter, and her son now sleeps inside the four-bedroom house - with seven other relatives.

She pays $300 a week for food, power and rent for the one-car garage and said she looked on Trade Me every day for an affordable rental property.

She has been to 15 flat viewings in the past two weeks but has had to compete with more than 60 prospective tenants every time. With two young children and a bad credit rating, she said there was little hope.

Breiter's message to landlords was: "Give the little person a chance."

"I am down on my hands and knees, saying ‘Please'."

Raising her children in impoverished conditions was soul-destroying, Breiter said.

"Jesse asks why I don't love him any more. He thinks I am trying to punish him by doing this."

Breiter went on the domestic purposes benefit after she was injured at work in the June earthquakes in 2011 and has sought help on budgeting advice and finding employment from welfare agencies.

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- The Press

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