89 properties on Trade Me

June 6th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A 40-year-old solo mother has returned to prostitution to offset an “unaffordable” rent rise.

The domestic purposes beneficiary, who wanted to be known only as Sarah, was not proud of her lifestyle but wanted the public to know “people have had to go to extreme lengths to survive” ’s rental housing drought.

Sarah has had an $80 rent increase over the past year and said it was “beyond affordability”. …

Sarah, who has been house hunting for the past six months, said the Government needed to intervene.

One rental she viewed had no hot water and the landlord told her she could shower her children at Jellie Park, while other open homes had left her disheartened when people started offering more money than that advertised.

“Landlords are taking advantage of the situation and are increasing the rent just for the sake of it,” she said.

Sarah receives $660 on the domestic purposes benefit each week, and in September her rent will increase to $440.

The rise will leave her with $220 a week to pay for power, basic bills and food.

A is a very bad idea. Christchurch needs more residential properties, and a would deter investment in new properties. But turning specifically to this case highlighted, a search on Trade Me found 89 properties for rent in Christchurch for $350 a week or less – and all 3 bedrooms or more.

The distribution of Christchurch 3 bedroom+ rental properties in Christchurch is:

  • Up to $250/w – 7
  • Up to $300/w – 26
  • Up to $350/w – 89
  • Up to $400/w – 209

If one extends this to 2 bedroom+ properties (noting both kids are at primary school), you get:

  • Up to $250/w – 33
  • Up to $300/w – 113
  • Up to $350/w – 234
  • Up to $400/w – 389

So let’s be very clear on this. Her current rent is $360 a week – and there are 89 properties listed (just at this point in time) which have three or more bedrooms and are cheaper than $360 a week. And if you include two bedroom properties, then there are 234 properties listed.

Wouldn’t this be a pertinent fact in reporting the story.

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55 Responses to “89 properties on Trade Me”

  1. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    No DPF, it would be impertinent!

    Good stories are supposed to be impervious to trivia such as the truth*

    * unless such truth would undermine the current govt of course

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  2. peterwn (3,273 comments) says:

    No. It spoils a good story. Anyway, why do research when your editor accepts without question stories which are just regurgitated press releases.

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  3. peteremcc (344 comments) says:

    No, don’t be silly David, that would spoil the article.

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  4. AndHow (5 comments) says:

    It wouldn’t be the normal, run-of-the-mill, everyday, yellow journalism from Stuff if they did that! Anything that they can do to make the average New Zealander feel falsely uneasy about the quality of life that they have.

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  5. Auberon (873 comments) says:

    The writer, Olivia Carville, has been on quite the bleeding heart run of late, with none of her stories mentioning the support (including rental support) the government offers, or the numbers of rental properties available in Canterbury.

    It started with the (former Labour list candidate) community board member who chose to sleep in her car as a stunt and has gone from strength to strength, with the facts never once getting in the way of good melodrama.

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  6. MT_Tinman (3,187 comments) says:

    I notice also the “return to prostitution” bit.

    Any figures on how many children gives one a $660 pw DPB payout (incl. rent rebate I assume) ?

    Why is $220pw is not enough to feed and clothe a small family?

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  7. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    It isn’t meant to be easy to survive on a benefit. That is why they are set low (although $660 does seem pretty reasonable – at first pass it appears as if it’s more than working on the minimum wage).

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  8. labours a joke (442 comments) says:

    660 a week for sitting at home. 660 a week for sitting at home. Incredible. Fuck work. Where do I sign up.

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  9. Longknives (4,753 comments) says:

    $660 a week for sitting on her arse.
    She will also get child support and endless WINZ ‘allowances’ on top of that.
    Plus free food (Emergency food vouchers), free health care, free Dental, and WINZ ‘Special Grants’ for pretty much anything she can sweet talk/threaten the Case Worker into giving her.
    Beats working for a living ‘Eh’?

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  10. Alan Johnstone (1,087 comments) says:

    It would appear to me that the person being subsidized here isn’t so much this woman, but her landlord. We taxpayers are giving him $440 a week.

    Perhaps we should wonder how much of an effect the DPB has in distorting the rental market? I’d guess quite a bit. If the DPB was capped at a lower level, rental costs (and therefore the purchase costs) of homes would fall back.

    It would appear to me that a group of people are doing very well here, and it’s not the people on the DPB. All i see is a stream of cash going from the taxpayer to people investing in largely non productive assets. Cui bono ?

    Something is rotten here, but I claim no wisdom or solutions.

    ps, someone said that $220 should be enough to feed / clothe / power a small family. Really? With two adults and one child, we’re running at $1,000+ a week in food, clothing, motoring, insurance and power bills (i.e. non housing costs). I couldn’t grasp how it would be remotely possible to do it on a fifth of what we do.

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  11. Feanor (38 comments) says:

    Prostitution in a honest, legal job according to the laws of the land so she should be applauded for returning to the workforce. Hopefully she can make it a fulltime position and lower the number of beneficiaries in the country by one.

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  12. mara (786 comments) says:

    Journos almost never give both sides of a hard luck tale. Why spoil a good story? Critical readers know this.

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  13. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    do we know if shes hot? Dime will be in christchurch again very soon

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  14. Alan Johnstone (1,087 comments) says:

    It’s also largely a cash only business.

    Would be interested to know how many of these people are collecting GST and paying tax

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  15. andyscrase (89 comments) says:

    Why isn’t there a climate change angle to this story?

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  16. Longknives (4,753 comments) says:

    Longknives expected to hear from Dime sooner regarding this hooker..

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  17. MT_Tinman (3,187 comments) says:

    ps, someone said that $220 should be enough to feed / clothe / power a small family. Really? With two adults and one child, we’re running at $1,000+ a week in food, clothing, motoring, insurance and power bills (i.e. non housing costs). I couldn’t grasp how it would be remotely possible to do it on a fifth of what we do.

    How the fuck do you spend $1,000 pw on two adults and one child?

    Not, I suspect, by watching pennies, budgeting and only spending where necessary – the basic requirements of one receiving charity from the State.

    Incidentally, since the earth moving destroyed business I’ve lived on a damned sight less than $220 pw although I can’t include household/contents insurance in that – the insurance company cancelled that on September 6, 2010.

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  18. WineOh (630 comments) says:

    I hope she declares her earnings back to the appropriate authorities so that the benefit is reduced the more she earns.

    $660 per week in the hand is equivalent to earning around $44K pretax per year if you have a student loan, or roughly the average NZ wage. Surely there must be cheaper rental around.

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  19. David Garrett (7,289 comments) says:

    I note she is 40 years old and gave the game away three years ago…which suggests she was doing it a while before that. And as someone else has said, so what? Labour made “sex worker” just another job category didn’t they?

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  20. Alan Johnstone (1,087 comments) says:

    “How the fuck do you spend $1,000 pw on two adults and one child?”

    It’s really not that hard.

    $400 a week on food. Have you see the price of decent meat or a bottle of wine these days ?
    $100 a week on petrol
    $100 a week on insurances (life, house, contents)
    $100 a week on power / water
    $100 a week on property rates
    $100 a week on entertainment
    $100 a week on clothing / household expenses

    I haven’t even counted things like phone / internet costs etc. Housing costs are a subject best avoided :>

    If this woman is living on $220 a week with two kids then god knows what kind of life she’s living, but I doubt it’s the kind of thing any one with a brain would do by choice.

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  21. GPT1 (2,122 comments) says:

    Benefit fraud anyone? As a colleague said shouldn’t the headline be “turns to benefit fraud”

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  22. Cunningham (844 comments) says:

    Bugger me Alan Johnstone (48) $400 per week on food?? Do you eat fillet steak every night or something? I have 2 children (and a wife!) and we never spend over $200 and usually it’s about $150. That is not being too tight either although we don’t buy top quality steak or anything. There are plenty of ways to save money and I just wonder whether this is another case of someone who is hopeless at budgeting. It is a skill I really wish they taught at school.

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  23. Paulus (2,627 comments) says:

    Should she return to prostitution will she pay tax on the earnings, and will she advise Winz ?

    – Yea !

    Load of cobblers, typical media.

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  24. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    How on earth do you spend $400 per week on food? I’d be lucky if I spent that in two months and I eat very well (OK there is only one of me, but…).

    $100 per week in petrol I can understand, it may even be more.

    $100 per week in insurance is also a bit high – I pay about $A900 per year for house insurance (no contents so say x2) and $25ish per month for life insurance. That is about $A40 per week so $NZ 50pw. And yes insurances in Queensland went up because of natural disasters too.

    I won’t go into power and water since I don’t know how much a family would use (again there is only one of me).

    $100 per week on rates is $5200 per year and even though I know rates are out of control, it’s probably more like $50 per week or $2600 per year.

    $100 per week on entertainment can be sacrificed if you’re on a tight budget. If you’re not I assume that $100 includes saving for a holiday, in which case it’s not really very much.

    Again I think I would be lucky to spend $100 per year on clothes, and if you’re counting your pennies you don’t spend money on clothes until you have to.

    There are cheap options for phone and internet. You can get prepay 2 degrees for 22/44c per minute and $20 or so would last a month if you don’t use your phone much. And if you do because you are a prostitute it is tax deductable. Also XT is very good and has a similar cost to Telstra 3g in Australia (yes I do know what I am talking about because I have a stick for both countries). In January I put $150 on my stick in Australia, I use it extensively (but not for downloading movies) and I still have $90 left.

    It isn’t hard to be tight with money if you try hard. $1000 is quite a lot of money to spend if you aren’t including the cost of your housing.

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  25. DJP6-25 (1,387 comments) says:

    Stuff, stuffed.

    cheers

    David Prosser

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  26. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    @Alan,

    No welfare benefit is intended to fund that sort of a lifestyle. (Particulary for one adult and two young children.)

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  27. backster (2,172 comments) says:

    Sarah probably doesn’t exist but is a make believe by a crusading Journo upset by the Maori Party inspired increases in the costs of ciggies.

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  28. Rufus (667 comments) says:

    $440 rent for an adult and 2 kids is ridiculous. Methinks this lady should try harder.

    Also, as some have mentioned, the headline should read more along the lines of “struggling solo mum finds job”.

    Expecting to stay at home, not working, when you have primary school kids (ie. free time) and being paid for it is also ridiculous.

    I hope she’s declaring the income and paying tax on it.

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  29. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Remember this is Christchurch.

    So she has a IV drug habit to support as well, so just think before you lash out with the criticisim you nasty buggers

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  30. Alan Johnstone (1,087 comments) says:

    I agree that no welfare budget should fund that standard of life, if so why would anyone work? I wouldn’t. I’m aware that my personal example isn’t one of tight budgeting, I’m by no means rich but we live within our means and save a bit. My insurance figures also include private medical cover. A second income would help a lot of course.

    I was just trying to show the difference between the $220 a week that she lives on and what I’d consider my mainstream middle class suburban new zealand lifestyle. She’s going to struggle, an unexpected event like new winter shoes for the kids or a doctors visit are going to floor her.

    If as taxpayers we are going to spend $660 a week on this family; I’d rather that more of it went to her and the kids and less to her landlord. Taxpayer support for private sector rentals distorts the housing market badly and pushes up house prices for everyone.

    As a country we should be looking to reduce the cost of housing; I have no easy solutions here, maybe release more land for building, slash resource consent fees, have templated kit homes with automatic building approval, remove more tax breaks on rentals to discourage housing speculation?

    The $660 a week isn’t going to the right person here.

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  31. Megan (12 comments) says:

    $660 on the DPB that is incredible!

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  32. David Garrett (7,289 comments) says:

    I just hope for her sake she is better looking than the last one “forced into prostitution”..remember her? Flown to Welly by the Greens and paraded around in front of the media…just what her kids needed…

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  33. annie (539 comments) says:

    Most women who need extra money think of other employment, but a few think of prostitution as the first and only viable option. It’s not news, it never has been. There’s always a segment who find being on the game more attractive than other work options.

    Let’s face it, this story is just stirring “I need more money so I’m forced to go on the game because the government won’t support me”, not “I need more money, maybe I should get a job”.

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  34. WineOh (630 comments) says:

    DG, lets hope the Greens got mates rates.
    Seriously though, to bemoan getting an income equivalent to the average NZ wage without working seems a pretty sweet deal to me.
    Gazz, our household regularly spends $300-400 per week on food including lunches, and thats just two adults. But we have the household income to support it so not moaning about it. It just means you have the freedom to buy what you want to cook/eat rather than scrimping around for the specials.

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  35. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    $660 / week is a decent income. What’s the problem here?

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  36. Christopher Thomson (376 comments) says:

    I would like to make one pont.

    Landlords have had to put rents up as insurances have sky-rocketed lately. We have a house available and have the rent set to cover costs and we are getting abused for gouging.

    I feel sorry for those without a home but it I am not interested in being a housing charity.

    May I also sugggest that perhaps there may be other reasons why she isn’t housed.

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  37. wreck1080 (3,917 comments) says:

    Rent freezes always result in shortages.

    If there were a rent freeze, this woman may not even have a place.

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  38. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    The story is not the one person highlighted to show the impact of rising rent cost – but the extent of the rent rise, $80 on a $360 property.

    If one property is going up from $360 to $400 a week the others are too.

    This means hardship for those on benefits and those working and dependent on WFF to help pay the rent and a growing call on accomodation supplement provision – rising cost to government.

    While the answer to lack of stock availability and lack of new building is not a rent freeze, will rising rents actually deliver more housing? If not, then the hardship can be mitigated by a rent freeze while other answers outside of the failed market are found. Waiting for the dead hand of the market only allows profiteering.

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  39. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    It is $293.58 net for a sole parent (and $333.01 gross).

    http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/manuals-and-procedures/deskfile/main_benefits_rates/domestic_purposes_benefit_sole_parent_tables.htm

    They will not say what the total base rate payment is for a sole parent with 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 or 8 children on their site. One can only wonder why.

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  40. hmmokrightitis (1,590 comments) says:

    Meh, a woman returning to prostitution becuase $660 a week isnt enough

    vs.

    a journo.

    I have slightly more respect for the hooker.

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  41. Martin Gibson (246 comments) says:

    When I was poor it would have been great to have just gone into male prostitution but there just weren’t the suitable openings . . . the average wage for men in this field is shamefully lower than it is for women and the hiring is shamefully sexist . . . where’s MY friggin ministry?

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  42. cows4me (248 comments) says:

    Bloody mole shouldn’t get a cent. Isn’t opening your legs for money a job now days. WINZ after reading this article should cancel this woman’s benefit, she’s working. I work and I can’t get the benefit why should she. This country is weak. Fuck $660 a week, no wonder we have so much unemployment.

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  43. hj (7,023 comments) says:

    $660 on the DPB that is incredible!
    …….
    Is that after tax? If so 825/week $42900/ year for sitting on arse most of the day. If not $34,320!
    No wonder workers aren’t into Mana, and the Greens.

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  44. Longknives (4,753 comments) says:

    “When I was poor it would have been great to have just gone into male prostitution but there just weren’t the suitable openings . .”

    I bet there were openings Martin- It’s just that some of the ungodly things you would have been required to do would make even Dime shudder…

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  45. big bruv (13,904 comments) says:

    Is there any way that we (the great unwashed) can check to see if this slut actually exists?

    Given that the cadet repeater who has attached her name to the story will not tell us the true identity of the bludger I wonder if this is indeed for real. Could it be another of the left’s “tame repeaters”?

    Anyway, even if the story is true we need to ask a few questions.

    1. How many kids did this slut have whilst on the DPB?
    2. Did she declare all of her “earnings” whilst working as a hooker?
    3. How long has she been on the DPB?
    4 If she was working as a hooker until a few years ago why the hell did WINZ pay her the DPB when she had a perfectly legal job in the first place?

    I am simply sick and tired of hearing about the thousands of bludgers out there who think they have a right to my money, yes they might have a sob story but I simply do not give a fuck anymore. Working as a hooker is a job, if she cannot be bothered working to feed HER OWN kids then I am simply not bloody well interested in her plight.

    Plenty of good people who have never asked their fellow tax payer for a cent have been hammered by the Chch quakes, I fail to see why we should spend one minute worrying about how some slapper is going to deal with going back on the game.

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  46. Archer (208 comments) says:

    The one good point from this story is the acknowledgement a solo mum with two young kids is capable of working during the day while the kids are at school.

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  47. David Garrett (7,289 comments) says:

    Archer: that’s the best comment on this thread today! although to be fair, hookers are the ultimate “independent contractors” and thus able to set their hours and other conditions…

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  48. Keeping Stock (10,342 comments) says:

    @ David Garrett – although if you were suggesting that a certain solo father could go on the game, I’d venture to suggest that he might have a few problems attracting clientele…

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  49. Steve (North Shore) (4,563 comments) says:

    The resident drug fucked train wreck has not made a comment and yet he survives without doing the extras

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  50. Longknives (4,753 comments) says:

    Keeping Stock- That sounds like far too much work for our resident DPB beneficiary! Imagine having to take a break every five minutes to check if ‘Whoar’ has received it’s first ever reader comment.
    Then there is that whole embarrassing problem of Cannabis induced erectile disfunction…

    http://www.ukmedix.com/impotence/cannabis_link_to_impotence_in_young_men4373.cfm

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  51. mara (786 comments) says:

    A smart woman in that position would quit the flat, alert the media and move the family into a tent pitched in Hagley Park. That’d get a cheap council house quick time.

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  52. Inky_the_Red (759 comments) says:

    Some interesting comments above

    There is a shortage of housing in Chch. This has forced up rents. I know a number of people who took months to find suitable housing. I know a few who have been forced to live with relatives. The fact is several hundred houses are now unlivable in Chch. Several thousand are damaged. At any time hundreds of people our out of their houses for repairs.

    Yes a few people have left but many others have come to Chch for work both from elsewhere in NZ and overseas. Mostly for work as Chch has the lowest unemployment rate in NZ.

    Some landlords have taken advantage of this. They are not facing additional costs yet have increased rents. They are making extra profit from a shortage caused by a natural disaster.

    She has 2 primary school aged children. Moving may mean another school.

    Yes Chch is a city with council housing. However that housing is mostly designed for retired people and those with disability not for families. Also many council and State houses were damaged and now are not available for people to occupy. I have no idea why neither the CCC nor the minister of Housing have not repaired those houses.

    As for jobs in school hours those are limited. Most of the single parents I know struggle to get jobs that cater for working 9:30-2:30. Strangely employers prefer staff who can work longer hours or in bars mostly on Friday and Saturday night.

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  53. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    $400 a week on food. Have you see the price of decent meat or a bottle of wine these days ?

    You need to buy a bit smarter.

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  54. chchgirl85 (2 comments) says:

    Wow. I am absolutely speechless. When did our society become so apathetic and just plain cruel? I am appalled at some of the comments on this blog, frankly you make me sick (with the exception of Alan Johnstone) and if I could use expletives I most certainly would. None of you have stopped to wonder what the effects of excessive housing prices would have on her two children. The more money she has to hand over to some greedy pig of a landlord exploiting the housing market from a natural disaster the more her children go without. Many of you questioned her integrity as a person, based on your beliefs about people you deem ‘less worthy’ than you. There was a comment mentioning her ‘turning back’ to prostitution with a snide comment to follow. Where do you GET OFF passing judgement on another person without even knowing them at all? You have no idea what this woman’s life may have been like, and due to your life being so shiny and perfect in comparison, you believe that gives you the right to pass judgement on another? And as for finding better accommodation? You have provided the amount of trademe listings, but have neglected to provide the amount of people currently in rental accommodation, or seeking rental accommodation for that matter. Talk about leaving the facts out! Also, you have neglected to mention that when going to a viewing of a property, you will quite often be joined by up to 40 other people also desperate to rent that same property. Its not just these people you deem unworthy of your ‘help’ that are in this situation either. I know dozens of people, good, hard working decent people who are struggling to find a home to live in. And no, $220 per week is NOT enough to live on. But all this makes no difference, it doesn’t matter what I say to you people, you’ve already made your minds up on who is ‘worthy’ of help, there is no changing your frankly perverse views. I thought I should stick up for this woman you label a ‘slut’. Get off your high horses.

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  55. chchgirl85 (2 comments) says:

    Oh and Inky_The_Red, you’re the other exception to the above :)

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