NZH Greg Bowker

Mother dies, children face being made homeless

One month after their mother died of cancer, four Birkenhead, NZ, children face becoming homeless on Saturday unless they can get a state house.

The children, aged from 15 years to 21 months, are staying with their father and grandmother in a rented house, but the family was given 42 days' notice to leave just 13 days before the mother Kourtney Ryder died of cervical cancer on September 1.

"The landlord and his wife came. Kourtney was lying here, she was very, very sick," said the children's grandmother Georgina Ryder.

"We'd just got back from a holiday. We got gifted a campervan and I took Kourtney away for a week. When we got back, that's when we got the eviction notice."

Her son Klintyn Ryder, the children's father, said the landlord rented the house to them after reading in the Herald a year ago about their Givealittle campaign to raise money for vitamin C injections for Kourtney.

They raised $5457 but could not stop the cancer.

Their 42 days' notice expired on September 29 and they have put most of their furniture into storage, but the landlord has let them stay until October 8.

"He's been good, but there's only so much he can do," Klintyn said.

Landlord Reg Iotua said he gave the family notice after police were called because a relative confronted a neighbour while searching for someone in the early hours of the morning.

"I had hung on for them for some time because they had got behind with the rent," he said. "I probably would have kept them going if the [relative] hadn't done the thing that he did."

The family applied to Work and Income for social housing about three months ago because Kourtney could no longer walk up the steps in their house, which is down a steep slope from the road.

"Just after Kourtney's funeral we contacted them and they said the application has to be all done again because Kourtney is no longer with us," Georgina said.

"I said, 'What about the children?' They said to us that I would have to put my name on the application, which I did to make things speed up a bit.

"They said that they will give us emergency housing but only to a motel or somewhere like that, but I haven't even got a quote yet. I went to the Northcote one and they are full up for the next two weeks."

She wants the family to stay on the North Shore, where three of the children are in schools, and is gathering more quotes from motels to go back to Work and Income today.

She said the children were not taking it well. The two oldest boys, aged 15 and 11, are staying with other relatives because they don't want to come back to the house where their mum died. The younger two, Kaezahn, 9, and K'ida-laine, 21 months, cling to their grandmother.

"He [K'ida-laine] won't even let me go to the loo, he follows me everywhere," she said.

"I don't know what's going to happen. I just woke up this morning and started crying. It's bad enough losing Kourtney, and being homeless makes it worse."

Social Development Ministry associate deputy chief executive Kay Read said the family's social housing application was transferred to Klintyn Ryder's name on September 12 without the need for a new application.

"We are actively looking for a house where they have specified, however it's a high demand area and options are limited. We are doing our very best to support them and will continue to do so to get them rehoused," she said.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett extended her sympathy to the family.

"I would expect them to be housed as quickly as possible," she said. "In the meantime, they should approach Work and Income if they need help urgently with accommodation."

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