Thursday, March 17, 2011

Jumping through hoops

Sometimes there is absolutely no joy in being right...
But anyways, moving right along (just like our RWC games)... yesterday I actually achieved something. Just under a month ago (it seems sooo much longer!) Mr Earthquake Minister, Gerry Brownlee, announced a rental assistance package for those displaced by the Canterbury earthquake which would kick in after their insurance cover ran out. We've been only too aware of the impending end to our insurance-paid rent and had already secured a cheaper rental property to move into before this package was announced, and before Feb 22 shook everything up.

As we were on the ferry to Wellington our insurance company rang to let us know they were sending our final rent cheque, so we asked them to send us a letter to that effect which was in our letterbox when we arrived home. This was the official letter we'd been waiting on, the final piece of documentation we needed before we could apply for the govt rental assistance. But where were we supposed to take our application to? The office originally set up to take them was in the central WINZ office - currently within the CBD cordon. The 0800 number on the forms I'd downloaded on Feb 19 no longer worked, callers were now asked to call the general earthquake assistance line... so I did.

The first operator I got didn't really know what I was talking about and after a bit of dithering suggested that I call WINZ. So I called WINZ only to have the operator transfer me straight back to the earthquake helpline as soon as I mentioned the word 'earthquake'. My second eq helpline person was a little more helpful thankfully and looked up in his system for the closest eq assistance centre. After discounting options B & C as being too far away and on the other side of some very dodgy roads, I pinned all my hopes on option A and headed there first thing the next morning, armed with all my paperwork.
I wasn't kidding about being made to jump through hoops! As with most govt-assistance schemes you have to provide a ridiculous amount of paperwork to justify your existence and your genuine need for help. This little bundle took a couple of hours to collate and included passports, drivers licenses, tax details, rates info, birth certificates, marriage certificate, utility bills and bank account details. Considering we've moved twice in the last 6 months, I'm amazed we found it all as easily as we did.

So I rolled up to the Sydenham community centre just after 9am, having dropped teenage son off to his new/temporary school location in Halswell, to see if this was where I needed to be. I filled in a form and sat down to wait while they figured out what to do with me. A nice young guy from Wellington came over and explained that it was indeed WINZ that was administering the scheme and that I'd need to go to a WINZ office to hand in the application. He told me where the nearest open office was (Riccarton) but then headed off to photocopy all my documents so I didn't need to wait on that at WINZ.

So off I drove to Riccarton. My bad queue karma kicked in, as the queue stretched from the door to the desk when I joined it but was non-existant by the time I was being greeted. The receptionist wasn't quite sure whether they were taking those applications or not and, after a quick chat with another staff member, came back to tell me that the Hornby office was the one dealing with these applications. After finding out the location of the Hornby WINZ office, I got back in my car and set off again.

I arrived in Hornby to wait in another queue. At least this one had the decency to stay in existence after I left it! When I got to the reception desk I was given the same line... "I'm not sure if we're dealing with that or not... hang on, I'll go find out." So I hung on and was rewarded with the news that yes indeed, this was the place and they had a specific person dealing with these applications so if I would like to take a seat, they would be with me soon.

I've been a beneficiary in the past, I know how long these things take and I was all prepared with my copy of The Press to keep me occupied while I waited. Well, bugger me - I'd only got to page 3 when my name was called and it was finally time to hand over all my paperwork and hope for the best. No matter how sure you are that you've ticked all the boxes and supplied all the right documentation, there's always a chance that something isn't right, that one thing has been missed and you have to go away and come back again another day. But not this time. Thankfully everything was in order and we'll start to get our rental assistance soon.

A good day's work in Shakeytown :)

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