National emergency housing problems

There is an escalating emergency housing problem, and escalating risks for the Government as embarrassing details emerge.

Newshub: Government blows the budget on emergency housing

The Government has had a massive blowout in emergency housing grants, spending almost four times its annual budget in just three months.

As part of an overall $345m investment in emergency housing, the Government only budgeted $2m per year for an estimated 1400 emergency housing grants – which pay for urgent motel stays for families in need.

But in the December quarter alone, the Ministry of Social Development spent $7.7m on emergency housing grants.

There were 8860 grants in the final three months of 2016 – which is more than six times the Government’s expectations.

Social Housing Minister Amy Adams says funding will be topped up from Crown funds in the same way benefits are.

“We’re not going to run out of money, nor will people miss out,” she said. “While demand has been higher, which we’ve been very upfront about, the grant will be available to anyone who is eligible.”

The December quarter was the first to be properly recorded by the Ministry of Social Development.

“The $2 million was what officials predicted might be needed – remembering that this was the first time we’d established the grant, so it was always going to be a forecast,” Ms Adams said.

In a briefing to the Incoming Minister of Social Development, MSD warns the additional demand is “creating pressures”.

“The high level of demand for emergency housing has seen higher than expected numbers of households being supported to stay in motels and other forms of commercial accommodation,” it said.

This is embarrassing for the Government. They didn’t do enough soon enough.

The pressures on housing are also creating funding pressures plus pressures on National in an election year.

Newshub: Government counts homeless in tourism stats

The Government has been counting homeless people living in motels in its tourism statistics.

Statistics Minister Mark Mitchell has confirmed official tourism numbers include people who are being put into hostels or motels through emergency housing special needs grants.

The Statistics New Zealand Accommodation Survey is used as a measure of tourism levels, with the definition used to define the domestic tourists “one New Zealander spending one night at an establishment”.

However when Newshub asked tourism minister Paula Bennett if homeless were included, she said no.

“No, because they’re not tourists. Sorry, I’m not sure what you’re asking.

“No they’re not included in the tourism stats for accommodation.”

The Government are looking increasingly out of touch and too slow to respond to housing issues, especially emergency housing.

RNZ: PM responds to criticism over housing crisis

English can’t easily talk down the severity of the problems or the embarrassment.

Government finds more need and money for emergency housing

Social Housing Minister has found the need and obtained Government funding for more emergency housing.


Government injects another $300m into emergency housing

More emergency housing places, more support for tenants and more frontline staff have been funded in the next step in the Government’s comprehensive housing plan.

The funding boost of more than $300 million will be enough for up to an extra 1400 places at any one time, 600 in Auckland and the remaining 800 places in areas of high demand around the country.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says that’s an ambitious goal but the Government has set up a cross-agency team to secure suitable properties around the country and, in Auckland, build new ones if necessary.

The $303.6 million package, over this financial year and the next four, is made up of:

  • $120 million in capital funding to build, buy or lease properties suitable for emergency housing. $100 million of this will be as a loan to HNZ.
  • $71 million in rental subsidies.
  • $102 million for providers to support, stabilise and help tenants into longer-term housing
  • $10.4 million for more dedicated frontline MSD staff to work with people who need emergency housing or are on the social housing register

The extra emergency housing places will be delivered in a number of ways, including using vacant Crown land, Mrs Bennett says.

“For example, Housing New Zealand is building more than 40 homes in Otahuhu, Auckland, on land it has leased from the Ministry of Education. The development will be ready by early 2017.

“We’ll also use vacant Crown-owned properties where they are available, purchase accommodation facilities and lease properties as needed in areas of high demand.

“These new places will be in addition to the more than 3000 places per year and special needs grants for accommodation we have already funded to the tune of $41.6 million in Budget 2016.

“In total, we’re aiming for more than 8600 places per year, as well as continuing to provide access to alternative accommodation when contracted emergency places are not available,” Mrs Bennett says.

“Especially in Auckland, the strong market has made it hard to find new places but with this funding we have made sure it’s not money that’s holding us back. The Government wanted to make sure that we could seize every opportunity and be as flexible as possible to support the great work emergency housing providers are already doing in this space.

“This procurement work is already well underway. In addition to developing housing on Crown land in Otahuhu, work is progressing on modular housing at three sites across Auckland and Housing New Zealand has bought a motel in Takanini, Auckland.”

 

Labour’s Emergency Housing Plan

Yesterday Andrew announced the first of three housing policies, on emergency housing. It addresses a topical issue but it’s difficult for an opposition party to deal with an emergency when they are still over a year away from an election.

The housing situation may or may not have changed substantially once the next coalition gets into power, and there’s no guarantee Labour will be a part of it.

As posted by on July 07, 2016:


THE ISSUE

There are 4,200 New Zealanders sleeping rough or in cars at any one time. Because of insufficient emergency housing, it takes the Government over 155 days on average to house a homeless person.

No New Zealander should be homeless. We’re a better country than that.

HOW THE PLAN WORKS

Labour will take serious action to end homelessness by investing an additional $60m over four years in new emergency housing places so that families living in cars or on the street will have a roof over their heads.

Labour believes in a housing first approach, and that ideally individuals and families should be housed in stable and permanent accommodation in the first instance. Right now, there’s a housing crisis. We need immediate accommodation options while we get on with the job of building more homes.

NGOs acquire emergency housing by building or buying accommodation. The $15m a year of additional funding will provide 1,400 new beds – an increase from 800 at present to 2,200.

That is enough places to help an additional 5,100 people per year.


Typically, people are homeless for a period of a few months – there is a considerable flow of people in and out of homelessness. This new supply of emergency housing will be enough, over time, to support the homeless population into permanent housing. Labour’s commitments to build more state and affordable housing will mean more permanent housing is available for them.

Unlike the Government’s recent announcement, which only funds existing emergency housing, this policy will increase the number of beds available through community providers.

Labour will work with NGOs to help homeless people stay housed and access the services they need.

The Government must support the work of emergency housing providers by making sure essential wraparound services such as addiction, mental health and budgeting are made available.


This emergency housing policy is part of Labour’s comprehensive housing plan, which includes: 

  • Building more state houses and maintaining them properly, rather than selling them off.
  • Requiring all rentals to be warm, dry, and healthy to live in.
  • Building thousands of affordable homes for first home buyers.

Pre-budget: emergency housing

The drip feeding of pre-budget announcements continues. Minister of Social Housing (I didn’t know there was a ministry specific to that) Paula Bennett announced new fund for  emergency housing.

BUDGET 2016: 3000 EMERGENCY HOUSING PLACES FUNDED

For the first time, the Government will pay for about 3000 emergency housing places across the country per year so people have access to a roof over their head when they need it most.

The Government will provide $41.1 million over the next four years in Budget 2016 for emergency housing and grants.

“Emergency housing provides an essential safety net for people in crisis, and is an opportunity to intervene and support families with complex needs,” Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says.

“Our Government made a commitment to provide better access to emergency housing for our most vulnerable citizens. Emergency housing providers told us accessing funding to provide these places was difficult so now, for the first time, emergency housing will have ongoing, dedicated funding,” Mrs Bennett says.

The bulk of the $41.1 million of new operating funding will be used in two ways:

  • The Ministry of Social Development will contract NGOs to provide about 3000 emergency housing places each year.
  • A new emergency housing Special Needs Grant to support individuals and families with the cost of emergency housing for up to seven days if they are unable to access a contracted place.

The new places will be available to anyone who can demonstrate they have a genuine need for emergency housing.

The first contracts with providers are expected to be in place by September.

(Press release)

From Radio NZ Govt to spend $41.1m on emergency housing

Tai Tokerau trust praises govt move

A Whangarei organisation providing shelter for the homeless is praising the government’s cash injection.

Adrian Whale, who chairs the Tai Tokerau Emergency Housing Trust, has welcomed the government’s support for organisations working on the frontline to create stability for families in crisis.

He said it was good to see the government recognising that homelessness was not the way life was meant to be lived.

Mr Whale said demand in the north was growing and the trust would have to find a way to buy a second property in the coming year.

What some claim is a right wing government with more social spending.