Auckland community housing provider, Monte Cecilia Trust recently supported a family-of-eight move into a Housing NZ property in south Auckland.
Carol Smith said she and her children are happy to finally be in a house of their own. Carol Smith's home is a happy place, full of the sounds of laughter and play.
But things haven't always been so good. The 36-year-old and her seven children have lived in a variety of situations, some of them difficult, since moving to New Zealand from Samoa in 201
Carol Smith's goal is to start a home-based sewing business. They initially moved in with Smith's aunty and her two children in a Housing NZ property in Mt Eden, central Auckland.
Three of Smith's children slept on a mattress on the floor of the overcrowded three-bedroom home. Five months later, in November last year, the family moved in with a cousin in Favona, south Auckland. Smith and her seven children were able to move into a Housing NZ property in south Auckland thanks to support from the Monte Cecilia Housing Trust.
Unfortunately for Smith, the cousin was already living with her partner and seven children.They stayed there for a fortnight.
Smith contacted Work and Income and got onto the Ministry of Social Development's social housing register to receive a state house. Her early attempts to get her family into a place of their own were unsuccessful.
"I applied for 11 private rental properties but landlords didn't want us because I had too many kids and I'm not a permanent resident," Smith said.
She eventually sought help from Monte Cecilia Housing Trust, a social and emergency housing provider based in Mangere, south Auckland, but it was full.Smith then moved out of her cousin's home and into a south Auckland motel.
"We stayed in a single room there," she said. "It had two double beds.
"My three boys slept on the floor and the rest of us slept in the beds.
"We were there for two months and two weeks."
Monte housing social worker Bex Rillstone reviewed Smith's social housing register application and regularly checked in with the ministry on her behalf.Housing NZ recently offered Smith a two-storey, five-bedroom home in Favona. She inspected it with Rillstone and didn't wait long to snap it up.
"I am very happy," Smith said. She's currently a stay-at-home mum and receives the sole parent support benefit. Her dream is to start her own sewing business. Smith's children are in school and doing well.
Rillstone said it's not uncommon for larger families to struggle to find a private rental.
"People are putting in applications and they're being declined.
"Landlords don't want big families in their houses as they're worried about damage caused by younger children.
"And a lot of landlords are hesitant with families on a benefit."