Rebekah Smith has been told that she has to either buy or move out of her Bishopdale unit. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Finding a home for Rebekah


Rebekah Smith is in limbo.

She moved into her Bishopdale unit three years ago after struggling to find somewhere suitable. Rebekah uses a wheelchair after living with Multiple Sclerosis for many years.

She managed to kick the disease into remission thanks to stem cell therapy, but its aftereffects were lingering. Neurological damage to her spine means she cannot bear any weight on her legs.

Now, add to that, the stress of trying to find somewhere to live. Several weeks ago, her landlord said they needed to sell her unit.

“They had a change in their situation which means it sucks for me,” she says. “There is nothing out there.”

Rebekah says the housing market is horrific enough without having to find somewhere that is wheelchair-friendly.

“Or even modifiable.”

The landlord did offer the one-and-a-half-bedroom unit to Rebekah to purchase but the asking price is much too expensive for her to manage. She is only on a supported living wage through Work and Income.

“I’ve tried everything.”

She has gone to various housing organisations, but she doesn’t seem to quality for them. She is on the waitlist for state housing and emergency housing.

“If I was kicked out tomorrow, I don’t know where I would go.”

She would prefer not to move but realises that the odds are stacked against her. Rebekah needs to stay in Nelson because of her health but is looking for help anywhere she can get it.

She is now on a periodic lease from which allows her to be given 21 days’ notice at any point. It is likely that the unit will be listed publicly this weekend, but Rebekah is not giving up.

“I just have to keep trying.”

A Givealittle page has also been launched to help Rebekah raise the money to buy the house.