MP protests homeless mothers’ treatment

Clare Curran in her protest camp in the Octagon yesterday morning. PICTURE: Otago Daily Times

Moral judgments are not all that helpful when deciding who gets to have a house, Dunedin South MP Clare Curran says.
“The bottom line is people need somewhere to live.” Since Sunday night Ms Curran has been camping in the Octagon to protest the Ministry of Social Development’s treatment of homeless Dunedin mothers Kylie Taggart, 30, and Amy Stuart, 25. She said she plans to stay in the Octagon until both women have a place to live.
The ministry appeared to blame the women for their predicament in a public statement, and the women told the Otago Daily Times they feel harassed and belittled by welfare staff.
After their story was published yesterday, some people on social media criticised the pair because of perceptions about life choices.
Ms Curran said those arguments were irrelevant. The Government was paying for expensive emergency accommodation in motels for the women, which made no sense for the taxpayer.
“They’re not going to pay for emergency accommodation in motels forever, so what are their options?” The ministry has suggested the women have to pay back the money due to claimed anti-social behaviour, but that would only get the women into debt, Ms Curran said.
The women deny any suggestion of anti-social behaviour.
Neither of them are in relationships.
“The whole thing about being a single parent is the fathers are not directly in the picture,” Ms Curran said.
Ms Curran said she was approached by up to 60 people yesterday in the Octagon, none of whom said anything negative about the mothers.
However while the Otago Daily Times was visiting the campsite, about 6pm, Ms Curran spoke to a man who claimed the women did not deserve any more help.
Ms Curran tried to explain the issue was systemic, rather than moral.
“My position is people have histories, they’ve got pasts . . . but people still need a house, especially when they’ve got kids.” The ministry declined to comment further yesterday.
Otago Daily Times

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