'Meth' housing tenant payments not enough - advocacy group

The first 55 people wrongly evicted from their state houses are to receive compensation today following Housing NZ's debunked positive methamphetamine tests which saw roughly 800 tenants displaced from their homes. 

Each tenant is set to receive a pay-out averaging $8,000 but an advocacy group says it's not enough.

Kathleen Paraha of Auckland Action Against Poverty says whilst the $7,735 compensation is a step up from the government's original offer of $2,000, it's still not enough.

"They've lost their homes, they're getting compensated but have no homes to spend it in.  What they really need is a home and the compensation."

AAAP have been dealing with over 100 of the tenants affected by the issue.  Paraha says some of them are living on the streets or with family in breach of their own state home tenancy agreements.  Others living in motel or hotel accommodation have been forced to foot the bill.

“No matter what they do, they are being indebted for something they were blamed for but not responsible.”

 Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford says Housing NZ is doing its best to front up and redress the hardships caused by the meth debacle.

“Housing NZ has been in contact with 295 former tenants who were affected by this situation and they are working through with all of those people to try and establish eligibility.” 

"I want to call on anybody out there who was caught up in the meth contamination fiasco with Housing NZ who feels they may have been treated or wrongly had their evictions terminated and suffered some material losses to come forward, contact Housing NZ."

In a statement to Te Kāea, Housing NZ say they are working closely alongside the Ministry of Social Development “to make sure anyone whose tenancy was ended as a result of methamphetamine contamination is reassessed for rehousing, where appropriate, as soon as possible.”

Paraha says it’s not as easy as it seems, with some still waiting on a home.

"Every time I ring for one guy, they reckon they can't find a home for them but they’re not housing anybody so I don't know why they can't find a home."

Paraha is urging the government and Housing NZ to deal with tenants on a case-by-case basis.  She says some tenants are too whakamā to come forward.

“They think they're going to be declined.  Every time they go in, they think they are just going to get declined for everything so they just think negatively about them."

Green's co-leader Marama Davidson has welcomed the compensation before Christmas, but says re-homing should be a priority. 

“Housing NZ really screwed up here.  They don’t know where those tenants went and they weren’t concerned either, that is the major issue.  Now they must focus on re-homing those they wrongly evicted.”

A further 92 assistance claims have been approved for compensation.