Elderly red-zoner forced into renting

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 14:24 23/01/2014
Janet Cramer
David Hallett/ The Press

BUYOUT NOT ENOUGH: Janet Cramer has left her red-zoned Kaiapoi home but will now have to spend the majority of her pension paying rent.

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Janet Cramer never expected to pay rent again.

But at 80 years old, Cramer will now spend $200 a week on a one-bedroom unit in Kaiapoi after leaving her mortgage-free, red-zoned home of 25 years.

Last year The Press published a story about elderly red-zoners struggling to move on in the wake of the earthquakes.

The Government's buyout offers were not enough to buy a new home in Canterbury's inflated property market yet banks seemed reluctant to lend to people nearing the end of their lives.

Cramer did not want to leave her two-bedroom Raven Quay home and said the Crown offer of $210,000 ''wasn't going to get me very far''.

Slowly, but surely, Cramer became the sole resident in her quake-hit street.

Experts and community leaders said Cramer was among a small group of red-zone residents falling through the cracks.

She was not eligible for state or council-owned housing because she owned her property and would receive money from the Crown. 

She was not eligible for temporary accommodation units because they were reserved for people who needed to move out while their home was repaired or rebuilt.

''There was nothing I could do . . . my daughter started to really worry about me living in such an empty street so I finally accepted the offer.''

She found a one-bedroom unit in a complex on Smith St in Kaiapoi for $200 a week and was forced to give furniture and belongings away ''so I could fit''.

She receives just under $350 a week from the national superannuation scheme and said paying rent felt ''unusual'' after many years of being mortgage-free.

However, she was grateful to find a new home in Kaiapoi and was glad she didn't have to leave the community she loved.

''My unit is at the front and it gets the sun so that's really nice.''

Leaving the garden she had carefully tended to for so many years had been difficult, she said, and finding ''good homes'' for the plants she didn't have room for had been a main concern.

''I was happy I didn't have to leave them behind to be bulldozed . . . but I just didn't have room for them all here.''

Red-zone residents who have accepted the buyout offers have until January 31 to leave their homes.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) this week said 158 owners were due to settle next week. A further 132 property owners had chosen not to accept the buyout offer.

Cera chief executive Roger Sutton said a property broker and a case manager had been in place since September to help find housing solutions for red-zoners.

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- The Press

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