“This is one more way we can right things for people who needed emergency housing and other MSD support after their Housing NZ tenancies ended because of erroneous meth contamination policies,” Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni says.
“The Government has instructed MSD to write off debts for the support people needed as a direct result of these policies ending their Housing NZ tenancy.
“Some people who lost their homes then turned to MSD for support for things like emergency housing, moving costs, storage, replacement furniture, school uniforms or bond and rent in advance.
“MSD granted the support but people were required to pay back the money and some fell into significant debt.
“The debt is a burden for many and has caused distress for those who lost their homes through no fault of their own.
“The Government has instructed MSD to wipe these debts.
“MSD will also refund any money people have already paid back. Payments to these people will start from mid-April and MSD hopes to have everyone paid by mid-year.
“This Government is committed to ensuring people are accessing their full and legal entitlements and are treated with respect and fairness in the welfare system,” Carmel Sepuloni said.
Editor’s background notes:
· Housing NZ ended 800 tenancies between July 2013 and June 2018 as a result of its policy for methamphetamine contamination.
· Housing NZ concluded in June 2018 that its policy for low levels of meth contamination was unnecessary and offered payments to ease the hardship it caused to tenants.
· However, as a direct result of losing their tenancies, many people now owed money to MSD for emergency housing and recoverable payments for things like moving costs, replacement furniture, school uniforms and bond or rent in advance.
· A dedicated MSD team is looking into every client’s situation and will contact each person from April onwards to let them know these debts will be cleared and to refund any money already paid back.
· Any money refunded to clients in this situation will not affect their other payments from MSD. Cabinet has agreed to exempt these payments from MSD asset and income testing for 12 months.