Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: This. Is. Crazy.

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  • Julienne Molineaux,

    Spoke to a homeless man downtown last week who had a similar story. I've seen this guy on the streets for a while and thought he had a house to go to. He did - but lost the tenancy because meth residue was discovered.

    He says the house was not tested before he moved in - so how do they know it was him? (He says it wasn't.) It doesn't seem to matter and he is back on the streets.

    He's not building up a debt - but he is fighting cancer.

    FFS.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2016 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Urquhart,

    Something my parents asked me at the weekend which I did not have an answer for and have not had much time to research - suppose you /have/ more rooms than you need (eg empty nest) and you want to make those available to help people who need short term assistance - who do you talk to? Is there any organisation or service which serves as a communication hub for such things? Who are the relevant charities/organisations?

    I'm pretty sure HNZ / W&I will not have a bar of talking to / managing individual offers, they will only want to outsource that administration to "approved providers".

    Any pointers?

    Christchurch • Since Mar 2009 • 161 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    We the public chose a government that made it crystal clear that they were planning to gut our social welfare state and health system in order to hand out tax cuts.

    We got the tax cuts and everybody was all smiles.

    Now we have the consequences.

    There is no money to provide the social housing needed. The agencies are using any excuse to throw poor people out on the streets.

    They pile paper debts onto the poor knowing full well those debts can never be repaid but it's OK because it makes their internal budgets look good.

    This is a direct consequence of the public being unwilling to contribute taxes to pay for social welfare.

    It's. Our. Fault.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4449 posts Report Reply

  • Louise von Randow, in reply to Robert Urquhart,

    Carebnb?

    Sounds like a fantastic social enterprise.

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Urquhart,

    Another stray thought: given current government methods of accounting W&I probably gets to claim all those debts as being a positive on the “asset” side of the ledger. Regardless of the (practically zero) likelihood they will ever be substantially repaid.

    Christchurch • Since Mar 2009 • 161 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Ten years ago a group of NGO welfare agencies delivered a report to then Christchurch Central MP Tim Barnett's office citing the urgent problem of loan sharks drawing the vulnerable into unsustainable levels of debt. Barnett promised to bring it to the attention of the Minister of Consumer Affairs. Shamefully, nothing came of it.

    It's an issue that's come up again during the tenure of each succeeding Minister of Consumer Affairs. Perhaps surprisingly it was ACT's Heather Roy who made the most positive noises about actually dealing with the problem, but that was as far as it went.

    While the activities of loan sharks appear to have continued to flourish largely unchecked, the Government's breathtakingly radical solution turns out to be WINZ beating them at their own game.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    My partner is a social worker, I guess the whole WINZ-loan thing is not a surprise to me - but it goes beyond housing .... show up at WINZ hungry, unable to feed the kids, and they'll offer you a loan too ..... and I'm pretty sure payback comes out of your ongoing benefit too.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2605 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    actually I just checked with the source, apparently money for food is not usually required to be paid back but money for other things (getting a car fixed etc) is - and it comes out of your benefit, often at a rate that's too high (she says how much is negotiable if you know you can do that)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2605 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    The new Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act came into effect on 1 April 2005. The first successful prosecution under the new act took place in 2006. It takes time for new law to bed in, and for new action to be taken. By 2008 we had a new government. In July 2010, Labour MP Carol Beaumont's bill targeting loan sharks was voted down by the National-led government.

    In 2015, a new voluntary responsible lending code came into effect. In theory, if all lenders adhered to it, then we would have no problems with loan sharks. But it is a voluntary code, so I guess pay day lenders and shop truck vendors are not rushing to sign up for it.

    I know the Labour party had policy around predatory lenders going into the last election, as I imagine the Greens did too. I've had a quick hunt around their site but I've been unable to find anything,but I'd attribute that to my lack of search skills rather than any lack in their policy.

    So it's not quite correct to say that no action has been taken with respect to predatory lending.

    It would be very interesting to know if WINZ has signed up to the Responsible Lending Code.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Robert Urquhart,

    W&I probably gets to claim all those debts as being a positive on the “asset” side of the ledger.

    Current Minister seems aware of that.

    an online petition with more than 6000 signatures was created calling for Ministry of Social Development Minister Anne Tolley to wipe emergency accommodation debt accrued before the changes kicked in.

    Tolley said she was aware of the petition, but had no plans to write off the debt as it would have substantial budgetary implications.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19667 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Deborah,

    So it's not quite correct to say that no action has been taken with respect to predatory lending.

    Thanks Deborah.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    The right to know your rights...
    Perhaps its time for a WINZ equivalent of The Little Red Schoolbook - laying out beneficiaries' entitlements and processes open to them, it seems anecdotally that getting that information offered readily by the 'gate-keepers' is problematic.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7880 posts Report Reply

  • David Herkt,

    These drug tests drive me insane... They are nearly completely unregulated as you remark. There are few and very debatable guidelines. There is no effective oversight. There is no real mechanism of complaint. There is also no accounting for 'false positives' - no drug-detection test is free from them. The sensitivity of contemporary drug-tests is also such that if you eat a poppy-seed bun your urine will test positive for opiates.Ditto a perfectly legal Panadeine. Cold medications will produce positives for amphetamines. I don't even want to think about residues on walls.... Housing NZ's reaction is simply a punitive device designed for maximum knee-jerk display. The private company testers are laughing all the way to the bank because the tests are not cheap - at least a couple of hundred dollars per test....

    Auckland • Since Sep 2007 • 52 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    All this calls for a mass occupation moment or two.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5414 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Sacha,

    Me, Thane - you, serfs...

    as it would have substantial budgetary implications.

    This could be Bill English's 'budget in the coalmine'
    - if it dies, so might National...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7880 posts Report Reply

  • James Dunne, in reply to Robert Urquhart,

    I was going to suggest AirBNB as a fairly feeble joke, but I do wonder on reflection if there might not be some logic to doing something along those lines.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2013 • 25 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Sacha,

    Tolley said she was aware of the petition, but had no plans to write off the debt as it would have substantial budgetary implications.

    Good lord. How could it be part of any serious budget? Nobody with any financial acumen believes that money will be repaid, so putting into any budget is just a fancy form of lying about money.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4449 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to David Herkt,

    These drug tests drive me insane… They are nearly completely unregulated as you remark. There are few and very debatable guidelines. There is no effective oversight. There is no real mechanism of complaint.

    Which argues that the drug test is being used as an excuse to throw people out of houses.

    What happened to our humanity?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4449 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    This. Is. Crazy.

    I think this is the year we really went through the rabbit hole. If we re-elect the government that presided over this rapid slide into shocking poverty, we will have gone through the looking glass.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10629 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Perhaps its time for a WINZ equivalent of The Little Red Schoolbook - laying out beneficiaries' entitlements and processes open to them...

    In the meantime there's this, if you're in Auckland. As of a month ago their doors were temporarily closed due to dealing with a backlog of cases.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Bell,

    We've been getting phone calls from builders wanting to know how they can get involved in the meth cleanup/rebuild business.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    In relation to CareBnB (great name there!), it seems to me a similar sort of question to that of people in the UK wanting to offer rooms or homes to refugees, as reported on here.

    Based on that story, it looks like the most obvious first step would be to contact existing charitable social housing providers, e.g. in Auckland, Monte Cecilia Housing Trust, and in general, any of the church social services organisations.

    If anyone knows of non-church-based charitable housing providers, do please share!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 580 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to James Dunne,

    I was going to suggest AirBNB

    I thought Louise von Randow's suggestion of Carebnb was a good one.

    I still remember the Government's corralling of 350 camper vans after the earthquakes - of which only one was used!!
    They cost only $190 a week (not a night) yet still cost the Gov't $1.5 million apparently - money for jam for someone - Maybe they could corral up all those Wicked Campers and make those available for the homeless with some portaloos - Gov't sanctioned sleeping in cars would be an improvement... surely

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-earthquake/4942205/Campervans-flop-with-quake-homeseekers

    The Earthquake camper vans idea would have worked better if people had been able to have the camper van at their home rather than a section in the middle of town - this Gov't is daft and crap at thinking laterally...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7880 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    MPs Metiria Turei & Carmel Sepuloni have been asking Written Questions about the issue.

    Provided Anne Tolley meets the Standing Orders deadlines, answers should start to appear at the above link in the next day or two.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Cameron Junge, in reply to Robert Urquhart,

    Salvation Army? Auckland Mission? Probably any of the social housing providers, I'd guess?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 45 posts Report Reply

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