'We don't know where we will go'

ANNA TURNER
Last updated 10:46 22/05/2013
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A Christchurch family will ''have nowhere to go'' if they don't find a wheelchair-accessible rental property within the next two weeks.

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A Christchurch family will ''have nowhere to go'' if they do not find a wheelchair-accessible rental property within the next two weeks.

Sandra Gray is desperately searching for a home with wheelchair access for her son, Ben, after she was told her family have to leave their Mairehau rental.

The Grays' Mt Pleasant home was badly damaged in the earthquakes and they have yet to settle with their insurance company.

Their current rental had been ''perfect'' for their needs, Gray said.

''It's got a big ramp that Ben can wheel himself into the house on, and a perfect bathroom and toilet.''

However, the owner of the home wants to move back in and has told the family they have to leave.

The family have been looking for a home for two weeks to no avail.

''We're on 35 different websites about six times each day looking,'' Gray said.

''We've sent 168 emails to property managers, and in one day alone we went to see 29 properties. You can tell straight away if they're right or not. There's just not a lot out there.''

Gray said they were ''getting desperate''.

''It's impossible. There's hardly any place that fits the criteria and when we see a few that are suitable, they get snapped up,'' she said.

''We don't know where we will go if we can't find anything.''

The family needs a house that can fit five poeple, with wide corridors and an accessible bathroom.

To add to the family's stress, Gray's husband is waiting for a heart transplant. He has a genetic heart condition that Ben and daughter Tash, 17, also suffer from.

''He could be flown up to Auckland for the operation at any stage. We just don't know,'' Gray said.

''We really need to get the house sorted before then. We can't leave our two teenagers to find a home.''

Ben Gray, 22, has been in a wheelchair since his heart-transplant operation went wrong eight years ago.

''He went into the operation healthy and came out without the use of his legs,'' Gray said.

''The transplant worked but he has been in a wheelchair ever since.''

The Grays are looking for a rental property with a toilet and bathroom wide enough for a wheelchair. They cannot afford to pay more than $450 in rent as they are on an invalid's benefit.

Property manager Tony Brazier said there were ''very few'' homes in the rental market with disability access.

''There's a huge gap in the market. We only have one on our books and it's a one-bedroom house. You can't blame it on the current tight rental market; there just aren't that many out there,'' he said.

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If you can help Sandra Gray, email reporters@press.co.nz

- The Press

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