Govt's plan to pre-purchase motel rooms to house homeless labelled as 'declaring defeat' by Labour

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Labour are labelling the Government's plan to pre-purchase motel rooms to house homeless people this winter as desperate.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says there are state houses for Auckland’s homeless outside the city.
Source: 1 NEWS

Updating the Social Services select committee today, Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett said "we could purchase a hundred motel rooms and fill them in a week".

But the idea's been slammed by Labour's Housing spokesman Phil Twyford.

"This is the National government running up the white flag, they are declaring defeat," he said.

Ms Bennett also told the committee that over a thousand state houses are vacant right now.

Four hundred and sixty-three are empty because of methamphetamine contamination and another 730 are waiting on repairs or for tenants to be placed.

The minister says there have been 130 expressions of interest in the government's proposal to pay state housing tenants to move out of Auckland.

Major Sue Hay from the Salvation Army says the government has to step up about the problem.
Source: Breakfast

"I would say to people that are homeless there is a chance that they could get a house within days if they're willing to look outside of Auckland," Ms Bennett said.

Ms Bennett admitted to MPs today that officials don't know how much debt beneficiaries are racking up in emergency accommodation.

But Mr Twyford disagrees, saying Ms Bennett could add the figure up at the "drop of a hat".

"She doesn't want the people of New Zealand to know the scandalous debt that's being exacted on homeless people," he said.

But Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith says the Government can't just build houses by a "magic click of the fingers".

"We certainly are building a lot of houses. What we do need to be careful of is there is only so much capacity in the building industry, you can't just build houses by a magic click of the fingers," he said.

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