$100 million to top 50 emergency housing motels in nine months

An eye-watering $99.87 million has been paid to the top 50 emergency housing moteliers in the nine months to March 2021 compared to $21 million for the whole of 2017/18 and is a stark indicator of just how big this crisis has become, says National’s Social Development and Employment spokesperson, Louise Upston.

“The dramatic increase in payments to moteliers is proof that the government has ignored official advice that week-by-week motel accommodation is not suitable for families or people with high needs.

“Not only are there more people living in motels, the average length of time people are forced to stay in emergency accommodation continues to increase. Between March 2018 and December 2019 the average stay more than doubled from 3.3 weeks to 7.7 weeks.  And now the average stay is 11 weeks (as at March 2021).

“The use of motels for emergency housing is putting increasing pressure on Police resources as well with a recent OIA confirming that Police are frequently responding to reports of violence, intimidation, public urination, drug deals and gang involvement at emergency housing motels.

“The fact that emergency housing and crime has been identified by Police as a major focus for its operational deployment signals how serious this crisis is.

“The Government must stop placing vulnerable families in motels without adequate support or regard to the risks they are exposed to. Leaving over 4,000 children to live exposed to violence, drug use and gangs is an utter disgrace.

“What happened to the Prime Minister’s pledge to make New Zealand the best place in the world for children to grow up?

“This government pays lip service to vulnerable families but these figures indicate a staggering level of incompetence and indifference. Emergency housing shouldn’t harm those already experiencing hardship by exposing them to anti-social and criminal activity. Urgent action is required.”

You can read an Official Information Act (OIA) response from Police here.

You can read a summary of the top 50 providers of emergency housing here.