Huntly mum's plea to stay in her state home
Hanna Matia never imagined she'd be forced to leave her family's state home of 23 years, the Huntly house where her children's placentas are buried in the yard.
Now the kohanga reo teacher and her family have less than a month until their tenancy for state housing is revoked.
It's something she and her family didn't see coming because they didn't think they would ever be in a position to afford a house of their own.
"We never thought that they were going to tell us to leave."
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On paper, they are financially able to afford a private rental, so they no longer qualify for state housing with their combined annual income of $60,000.
Matia admits they are in a better financial position since entering social housing 30 years ago.
They were beneficiaries then.
And she said it is fair enough if someone more needy were to have the house.
But they still found it tough - there are bills to pay and they have been supporting their five adult children who had been living there.
As a last resort, Matia put out a desperate video plea on Facebook, asking for help, a decision that didn't come easily.
The seven-minute video tours her house, decorated with numerous family photos in mis-matched frames. It quickly gained traction with more than 170,000 views.
It's a tough situation to not be able to provide for their family when they need it most, she said.
And for a lot of people in Huntly, it's the reality, she said.
"I had to ask my kids to leave because we didn't know if we had anywhere to go."
Two have found temporary accommodation.
Matia said she received a letter from Housing NZ saying she could buy the four-bedroom house.
However, when she and her husband applied for a loan, they were denied.
Even saving for a rental bond is a struggle, let alone a deposit.
"They want me to buy the house - how?"
She's applied to rent with a local real estate agent, but has had no luck. .
On the Harcourts' website, the cheapest rental property in Huntly is a three-bedroom home going for $300 a week. LJ Hooker has a two-bedroom property listed for $210.
She said she would be better off building equity by paying off a mortgage but didn't believe Housing NZ could help make that come true.
"If you're paying that [rental prices] out there, that's dead money."
Hauraki-Waikato Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta was one of the thousands to see Matia's video.
"We saw that posted on last night and we got on that straight away . . . to see how we can support them."
Mahuta said Matia's story was just one example of what many families in Huntly and surrounding areas were going through.
Though a family may have two incomes, the high cost of living wasn't factored into the living situation, she said.
"There are some families in similar conditions. I can only speculate that the criteria that MSD is providing is a lot tighter.
"The overall challenge is for the Government to commit to the provision of state homes rather than selling them off."
In March, the Waikato District had 19 of the 26 vacant state houses on the market.
Social Development deputy chief executive Carl Crafar said the couple had been paying market rent of $203.
"We have found that they could likely afford a private rental [and] as a result they are no longer eligible for social housing."
He said they were informed in December and were given an official 90-day notice in March.
"People also have the right to seek a formal review within three months of the decision on their eligibility for social housing if they disagree with the findings."
Crafar said the couple had not taken this up and had not sought support for the transition.
"If they feel they still have a need for social housing, we'd encourage them to get back in touch to complete a new application."
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