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HIV positive men may lose Housing NZ homes

Thu 22 Aug 2013 In: New Zealand Daily News

Bruce Kilmister Gay men living with HIV may be tossed out of their Housing New Zealand homes under a change in government policy due to kick in next year, according to the country's largest HIV peer support and advocacy group. Under the government's proposed changes WINZ will take over processing and evaluating eligibility for Housing NZ houses, a role currently performed by HNZ itself. "When WINZ takes over managing the criteria for eligibility that may provide further complications and obstacles," says Body Positive manager Bruce Kilmister. "I am worried because it further removes us from the service arm of housing arm of Housing NZ... it adds another gatekeeper." Kilmister is worried that "we might be further marginalised... single gay m en with health issues are just as valid as others in reduced circumstances." Being HIV positive currently gives people access to the accommodation should they require it. If they are able to earn an income then their friends are adjusted upwards to reflect their income. However, many people with HIV, the majority of whom are gay or bi men, can only work part time or not at all. Kilmister fears that assessors who do not understand the debilitating nature of HIV infection may try to remove HIV positive people from the Housing NZ properties and leave them to the mercies of the rental marketplace. "I know of many HIV-positive men who currently gain considerable reassurance that their home cannot be pulled out from under them and this takes an enormous amount of stress out of their lives and helps them better concentrate on dealing with their HIV issues," he says. Kilmister says many long-term HIV positive people have put down roots in their communities and spent considerable time and effort creating comfortable surroundings. But "I fully expect to see some men removed from their homes" due to the change in policy.    


First published: Thursday, 22nd August 2013 - 8:03pm

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