Government paid $75 million to top 10 providers of emergency housing over four years, new figures show

National is accusing the Government of running a "get rich quick" scheme for motel owners after new figures showed 10 motels and housing providers were paid $75 million in just over four years. 

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National is accusing the government of running a "get rich quick" scheme for some emergency housing providers. Source: 1 NEWS

The 10 motel and housing providers paid the most for emergency housing have received $75 million between them since March 2017, figures obtained by 1 NEWS showed.

National’s housing spokesperson Nicola Willis said the figures paint a shocking picture.

“Emergency housing should be about getting people back on their feet and back into their home,” she said.

“It shouldn't be a get rich quick scheme for motel owners.”

The Anglesea Motel is one of the 10 accommodations featured and has been paid $11 million since 2017, $5 million of which came last year.

However, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said the funds are needed.

“That one in Hamilton is one of the larger facilities we use and also is set up with two- to three-bedroom options for accommodation,” Sepuloni said.

“[It] works for larger families so it costs a little bit more.”

Since 2017, Manukau's MCentral Apartments was paid $8 million, including $6 million last year.

A Ministry investigation found taxpayers are paying over the odds for emergency rooms there.

“The advice I got from the Ministry of Social Development is that they are justified charging a little bit more given the wear and tear of having families in there longer term,” Sepuloni said.

Two other motels, Hygate Motor Lodge and Ashwood Manor, received $7 million and $6 million respectively since 2017 as well.

All four previously named properties have the same owners, who have received over $30 million alone from the government.

At the end of last year there were 8,500 Kiwis in emergency housing. National says the government has created a lucrative industry.

“We have some motel owners getting incredibly rich from this emergency housing and there's no sign it's going to stop,” Willis said.

Sepuloni said she wasn’t “comfortable” with the level of emergency housing but said it is better than the alternative of having people living in their cars.

“We have to house people in an emergency situation.”

Both agree the answer is building houses but Willis says the money going to emergency housing should be given straight to community housing providers instead to help them build new social homes.

When those houses can be delivered though is a whole other problem.

Demand for emergency housing rising

Figures obtained by 1 NEWS show demand for emergency housing is going to continue to grow as well.

Two years ago, New Zealand had 100,000 emergency housing grants, rising to 150,000 last year.

The Government said it expects that figure to rise again to 170,000 grants this year and stay at that level "for the next few years".

Last year, 123 New Zealand children had been in emergency housing for between one to two years, which the Government says it wants to address urgently.

While the motels aren't ideal, the Government said it's better than the alternative of people sleeping in cars or worse.