Housing NZ needs to stop unfair evictions

It’s become clear that Housing NZ has ignored repeated warnings from senior government officials in the Ministry of Health that it’s misusing methamphetamine guidelines to evict tenants.

The long story short is that hundreds of people have been evicted from their homes unfairly.

Green Party social housing spokesperson Marama Davidson
Green Party social housing spokesperson Marama Davidson

It is one thing to cook or make meth. Doing that contaminates the house. The chemicals get into the walls, making the house unhealthy to live in. The clean-up is expensive. It is never ok to do this, especially not in a state house or around children.

But Housing NZ has been using the guidelines that are intended to apply to people manufacturing meth, to evict people for very low traces of potential meth use in a house. There’s a big difference.

I’ve been asking for new, better guidelines for a while. Now the Ministry of Health has published new guidelines, which is great.

The new guidelines say that Housing NZ has been evicting people for detected meth use far lower than the reasonable level. Meth residue can be present 3-4 times higher than the level at which Housing NZ is evicting people  before it’s a risk to children’s health.

This tiny level of chemical contamination can apparently be cleaned up safely, easily, and cheaply. But Housing NZ has been charging its tenants tens of thousands of dollars for the type of extreme decontamination that is actually only needed for places where drugs have been manufactured.

And when people are evicted from Housing NZ houses for meth use, they go on a blacklist for 12 months. They often literally have nowhere to go.

So Housing NZ is pushing people out onto the street and lumping them with huge debts for unnecessary decontamination.

I am not saying it is ok to smoke meth. But evicting whole families and blacklisting them for 12 months because of tiny levels of meth contamination (that can’t necessarily even be proven to be the tenants’ fault) is not ok either.

I’ll be looking further into this to find out exactly how many people, and their children, have been evicted when they shouldn’t have been and how much Housing NZ has been charging its tenants for unnecessary decontamination. It’s unacceptable. The evictions need to stop and the huge bills need to stop, immediately.