It’s taken the Govt too long to act on emergency housing

After months of reports of substandard emergency accommodation, particularly in Rotorua, the Government has finally made moves to improve the situation, National’s Social Development spokesperson Louise Upston says.

“While these are good first steps to improve a failure in emergency housing, there is much more to be done and improvements are needed nationwide.

“If emergency housing isn’t good enough for families in Rotorua, then why is it good enough for everyone else?

“The Ministry of Social Development should be keeping records so they know who is staying where at any one time. More details allows for the right support and wrap around services to be provided.

“People in emergency accommodation will continue to be exposed to risks if there is no overall strategy about where people are located, for how long, and what support they are provided.

“Emergency housing shouldn’t be causing harm to people who are already experiencing hardship.

“The welfare system should be about giving people a helping hand up, not kicking them when they’re already down,” Ms Upston says.

National’s Housing spokesperson Nicola Willis says National has been calling for changes in emergency accommodation for months.

“Why has Housing Minister Megan Woods taken so long to act?

“In March last year she received advice from her officials warning that emergency housing in Rotorua was ‘creating risks to public safety’ and that individuals there were ‘not getting the support they need’. Why has it taken her more than a year to act on these concerns?

“It’s good to see the Government acknowledge the current model of emergency housing is not working but we’re still waiting on the plan to end unsuitable emergency motel use altogether.

“The explosion in the number of New Zealanders living in emergency motels shows the tragic failure of Labour’s housing policies. People in emergency housing are there either because they’ve been squeezed out of the private rental market, or they’ve been unable to access other housing.

“Labour came into Government promising to solve New Zealand’s housing challenges and build 100,000 KiwiBuild homes. They’ve demonstrably failed to do that and now we have thousands of people paying the price.

“The Government should support National’s Housing Emergency Response (Urgent Measures) Bill and partner with community housing providers to get more houses built fast.”