Chch homeless battle bitter cold
Sat, 09 Jun 2012 6:04p.m.
By Amanda Gillies
Canterbury is finally thawing after a snowstorm which boasted the coldest day on record.
But the homeless are struggling to cope.
Last night in Christchurch, temperatures dropped to -2degC.
It was pitch black, bitterly cold, and “George”, as he wishes to be called, is heading home. He's not driving anywhere. He’s already home – in his van.
“It's not that I want to be like this all the time. It's just sometimes you've got work, and sometimes you don't,” he says.
George is embarrassed because most of his workmates, friends and family don't know he's living in a van.
The 56-year-old welder was forced out of his beloved home in Waitaki St after the earthquake last year.
“The place got really wrecked. There was only one door you could open in the house.”
It was pulled down. He couldn't afford the local rents, which skyrocketed. Suddenly, like so many others in Christchurch, he was homeless.
“I didn't really know where to go.”
So he bought the van.
“Got all the pots in there, plates. I use a little gas cooker from the gas place. But I hardly ever cook. I go to the fast food, fish and chips place – takeaways.”
Every night he parks at New Brighton beach around 8.30pm. He has his coffee, chats to the other homeless people, doing all he can to have a “normal life”.
“It is hard. It's extremely hard. You can't have a shower, and you have to go to the camping grounds. Council used to have showers but they have taken them away.”
This week has been particularly hard. Weather temperatures have dropped to record lows.
“When it was covered in snow I never got up until 12 o'clock. It was cold as.”
He is not the only one struggling. We drove around Christchurch, spotting similar blanketed-up vans and cars parked on the side of the road.
Snow still blankets the ground around them.
At night, George opts for a beanie, a sleeping bag and two duvets. Then it's lights out for another long, cold night.
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11/06/2012 9:45:26 p.m.
companies are using agencies (tradestaff, coverstaff etc) but the thing is that the qualified skilled workers are paid only 17 to 20 an hour so the qualified workers are told this and they dont want these rates so the job is taken by an good supply of semi skilled 'trade assistants' for 17 to 20 dollars an hour (rare) and then the agency also sends a 14 dollar an hour labourer in place of the skilled qualified workers, so now when the skilled workers apply for a job at the company they dont get it because the agency workers are doing the work. true story, and because the agency staff giving jobs to people have no idea about what these tradesmans cv's and skills really are, this is a bad situation
10/06/2012 11:27:17 p.m.
What I can't understand is why the govermentn refused to conisder what the australians did after their Queensland floods and have a special tax surcharge for one year which came to about $1.44/week for the average tax payer.We could have done something similar to help those suffering. It is disgusting that the government is so hung up on their tax-cut ideology that not only they are running the country broke but they are quite hapopoy to see people freeze to death. It has been 18 months after the earthquakes for goodness sake and we still have homeless people we are truely becomoing a third world country
10/06/2012 4:31:53 p.m.
The money going towards the Christchurch Cathedral from a christian perspective should really be going towards building new homes for the homeless.
10/06/2012 1:42:45 p.m.
Something needs to be done to help those made homeless because of the Cant earthquakes. After all businesses trying to recover are still getting taxpayer assistance.
10/06/2012 12:32:30 p.m.
Hmmm time to put up the rents and make a killing while the government as usual watch's idly by( + does the same and makes a killing on their rental investments).
10/06/2012 11:10:56 a.m.
It is absolutely shameful that people in our city are still living like this. I hear of similar situations everyday. Someone comes along and puts a red sticker on your house (which means you get a $10,000 fine for entering it). Just where does that leave you - there are no reasonably priced rentals in the city. To make things worse, you are still paying mortgages, insurance and partial rates on these unliveable properties. Mr Brownlee says - accommodation crisis, what crisis? Mr Sutton (CERA) says "we provide counselling". All we ask for is to have our insurers make a rebuild or repair decision on our house and then 'get things done'. While I can't live in my home, I hear of people living in high dollar homes on the western side of the city, having cosmetic damage repaired by their insurers. It is time our Govt stepped in and started shaming the insurers who are acting this way - the Qld Govt had an inquiry into the way insurers acted after their floods. Perhaps this is what we need - perhaps we might find a sudden effort to get things moving. Both the EQC and CERA appear to be seeing the 'rebuild' as a 10 year plan. The people won't be around at this rate (perhaps that is what insurers want).
10/06/2012 11:02:55 a.m.
Stephen Jones wrote:
It is absolutely disgusting that CERA (who were put in place to oversee the recovery) are not doing anything about the people - they care only for the economic recovery, ie stadiums, convention centres, the CBD. The truly sad thing is that while homes with relatively little damage are having kitchens painted etc, people on the other side of town are forced to either live away from their damaged homes, or are struggling to heat their broken homes. This situation represents only one of the many in this city at present - our 'powers that be' have let us down badly. To anyone out there saying - what can be done - ensuring that the EQC paid out quicker and private insurers stopped playing games with people's lives, would certainly help. It's simple - we paid for insurance, now pay us out.
10/06/2012 8:56:10 a.m.
John Butler wrote:
Gerry Brownlee, please give up your spare room in your house for 1 or 2 homeless or better still hope into your car and live like this for a week.
10/06/2012 5:50:20 a.m.
Welldone for having a job in these hard times. Perhaps homeless and not wanting to be could camp on councils lawns until a solution is found. I find it abhorrant that there are still people without flushing toilets and homeless whilst how many years have passed. What is going on. I understand the airport is open at night but you are only allowed to sleep sitting up. Not great for work. Probably better to quit and head for warmer climates and a benefit.
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