Update: 8:35am – Rochelle Buchanan, 36, has been living in a friend’s state home for 18 months while she waited for her own state house.
A recent inspection found the three-bedroom house was overcrowded with 12 people and she was told she needed to get out, or her friend would be evicted.
Buchanan said she’d love to move into her own home and she was on the social housing register but nothing had come up for her. She was told it could be “two weeks or two years” before something did.
After the Herald contacted the Ministry of Social Development, the family were given an extra week to move out of the house – a state home now owned and managed by Accessible Properties.
Buchanan claimed Work and Income had known she was living there for over a year so she did not understand why they had only been given two weeks notice to get out.
Ministry of Social Development spokesman Kim Going confirmed they were made aware of the situation in March 2016.
“This is not ideal but…we are working to find a suitable home for Rochelle and her children.”
Buchanan tried to get emergency housing but her application was “put on hold” while she discussed options with WINZ, Going said. She was then referred to social service Te Tuinga Whanau but they would not be able to meet her until after she was due to leave.
“We knew it was overcrowded, but we thought they’d help find us a house,” Buchanan told the Herald.
“They don’t want to help until we’re literally on the street.”
Buchanan admitted it had been difficult sharing the house with so many people. Three of her kids sleep in the garage, including her 13-year-old daughter who was hospitalised with asthma earlier this year.
When they first moved in, all 10 of them slept in one room because another person was staying in the other bedroom.
“It’s been stressful. It’s stressful with the kids, let alone in someone else’s house.
“It’s cold, it’s definitely not nice.”
If they couldn’t find accommodation to move into they wouldn’t be leaving the house without a fight, Buchanan said.
“I’ll still be here. I’m not going to take my kids out on the cold street.”
Going said Buchanan and her children were causing the house to be severely overcrowded and breaching their friend’s tenancy agreement.
He said they had arranged for her to have another week in the house so she had more time to work through her options with WINZ.
“No one would want any family to live in a severely overcrowded home,” Going said.
“We are working with Rochelle to find a suitable home that’s big enough for her and her children, and can discuss transitional housing options if necessary.”
To the people who may judge her on having so many children and struggling to find a house Buchanan said that this was never her plan to end up in this situation
“I didn’t plan on being a solo mum, but things happen.”