Homeless family heartened by response

One night sleeping in a tent in a public park was enough to land several housing offers for homeless mother of three Nellie Hunt.

Ms Hunt and her children aged 16, 11 and 9 moved into a tent in Waltham Park on Monday after being evicted from their rental property.

In spite of being on Housing New Zealand's "urgent'' list since her landlord served 90 days' notice in September, Ms Hunt said she had been unable to find suitable accommodation.

She wanted to stay in the Waltham area because her children were at school and it was handy to where she worked as a bakery assistant.

Yesterday the city council offered her a four-bedroom house in Gloucester St and Waltham landlord John Beattie visited the park to offer the family a three-bedroom house close to her former rental property.

A city council spokeswoman said Ms Hunt applied for a council-owned social housing unit and was assessed as having a "high housing need''. She was shown a unit in Gloucester St at social housing rates of $260 a week.

Ms Hunt said she preferred Mr Beattie's property because "it's just down the road from where I was living''. The council property in Gloucester St was "a beautiful house, but just a little far away''.

Ms Hunt was grateful for the huge support she has received since her plight was aired in the media, including offers of food, money and even camping gear to help make her temporary accommodation more comfortable.

Some people offered to put the family up in their spare bedrooms or garages.

"I'd just like to say a big thank you from me and my children,'' Ms Hunt said.

"We thought we were pretty well down and out, but the response has been amazing. It wasn't what I was expecting. The generosity of all the people gives me faith that not everyone's bad.''

Mr Beattie said he'd responded to "someone in need''.

"She wanted to stay in the area. I thought it was a good opportunity to do something for the community.''

Mr Beattie said he'd been busy trying to clean the property after it was left in a "hell of a mess'' by previous tenants. He would rent the three-bedroom property to Ms Hunt for $300 a week.

"It needs a new stove, but they could move in tonight. The house is too flaming big for me. It needs a lot of TLC.''

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