Trisha Purves and her granddaughters have been living in motels for 10 months. Photo: Kate Russell.

Nowhere to go for Christmas

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All Trisha Purves wants for Christmas is a stable home for herself and her granddaughters.

She has shifted between seven motels in the last ten months, ever since they came into her care at the beginning of the year.

“We’ve been in motels, motels, motels. We can’t even put a Christmas tree up, it’s pretty depressing. It’s not going to feel like Christmas this year.”

Her granddaughters, aged nine and eight, were originally placed in Oranga Tamariki care, and Trisha stepped in to take care of them.

“It was really sudden. At the time I was renting a room, I didn’t have a house, so they put us in a motel.”

And they have stayed in motels ever since, while Trisha actively applies for rentals and waits on the Housing NZ list.

“I’ve been working with a housing navigator and Work and Income. I’ve applied for so many private rentals, but I’ve been unsuccessful. There are a lot of people looking.”

She says they move to a new motel between every three and five weeks, depending on availability. But with the summer holidays approaching, availability is drying up.

“We’ve got to be out of our current motel on December 18, because it is booked out.”

She’s still not sure where they’ll go.

“I’ve rung around, they’re just all booked up. One place might be able to squeeze us in. It’s a small bunk room unit with shared showers, but it’s better than having nowhere to go for Christmas.”

She says this year has taken a toll on the girls.

“It’s affecting them, especially my oldest. She’s got bad anxiety and a lot of anger.

“They just get comfortable in one place, then we have to pack up and move again. They say, ‘why nana, why do we have to go again?’ They don’t know what’s happening from day to day.”

Trisha says her budget for a rental is $450 a week, and ideally, she wants the girls to stay at their school in Richmond as it is “the only stable situation they have”.

“They’ve both been there since they started school. I don’t want to move them out of the only place that’s good for them.”

Trisha is hoping that her Christmas wish will be answered.

“This is something that I didn’t expect to happen. We’ve been through the wringer, it’s exhausting. I just want a stable home for these kids.

“I’ve just got to keep trying and hope that someone will give us a break.”