Ballina residents Jodi and Naihi Milner with their possessions out in the weather while their house is being renovated.
Ballina residents Jodi and Naihi Milner with their possessions out in the weather while their house is being renovated. Jay Cronan

Man moves into cubby in backyard

A BALLINA man is living in a cubbyhouse in his backyard after refusing to vacate a public housing property, which has been his home for 17 years.

New Zealander Naihi Milner, 55, has refused to leave the property he shared, until recently, with his wife, Jodi, 45, and four children.

At 7.30am on August 1, 15 tradesmen arrived at the couple’s home in Brampton Ave, East Ballina, with instructions to carry out a raft of repairs, the couple claim.

The Milners say they were given no notice of the work being carried out.

According, to Mrs Milner, the house had been in a state of extreme disrepair, dating back to when Mr Milner lived there with his first wife, who died of cancer in 2009, and their six children.

Requests the house be repaired had gone ignored until 19 days ago, Mrs Milner said.

The family was told to put their belongings in the yard so the repairs, which were extensive, could begin.

However, when Mrs Milner called the Department of Housing to find out what was going on, it was discovered the family were no longer eligible to live in the house because it was designated as Aboriginal housing and the family was not indigenous.

The house is owned by the Aboriginal Housing Office.

Mr Milner’s Aboriginal step-daughter, the eldest child of his first wife, was no longer living in the house, she moved out 15 years ago.

The family were told to hire a removalist and get their belongings off the property, which the department offered to pay for.

Mrs Milner is now living with her children in a Ballina hotel, paid for by the department, while her husband stays in the backyard.

He said the only way he would be leaving the property was in a "body bag".

In the meantime, the family’s belongings – including electrical goods, clothing and furniture – remain in the backyard where they have been rained on and damaged by bats and rats.

The department has found the family a house, but Mrs Milner said it was also in an unacceptable state of disrepair and in a "bad location".

The family is refusing to move into it.

The Department of Housing said the new four bedroom home was in a quiet location and it would do some upgrading and cleaning work.



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