Huge boost for emergency housing, support to tenants

The Government will boost funding for emergency housing by more than $300 million, saying the money will go into properties, rental subsidies and support for tenants.

The $300 million package will provide an extra 1400 new emergency beds at any one time. Source: 1 NEWS

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett has announced a $303.6 million package for this financial year and the next four. 

It's made up partly of  $120 million in capital funding to build, buy or lease properties suitable for emergency housing , with $100 million of this  to be as a loan to Housing New Zealand.

Also in the package is  $71 million in rental subsidies and $102 million for providers to support, stabilise and help tenants into longer-term housing.

There's also $10.4 million for more dedicated frontline Ministry of Social Development staff to work with people who need emergency housing or are on the social housing register.

The Government says the funding will provide 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. 

Ms Bennett says 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 extra emergency housing places will be provided in a number of ways, including using vacant Crown land, Ms Bennett said.

For example, Housing New Zealand is building more than 40 homes in Otahuhu, Auckland, on land it has leased from the Ministry of Education and this development will be ready by early next year, she said.

"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."

The new places will be in addition to the more than 3000 places per year and special needs grants for accommodation which the Government has already funded with $41.6 million in this year's Budget, the Minister said.

"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,"Ms Bennett said.

Meanwhile, the Greens are slamming the Government over emergency housing provision.

Green Party social housing spokesperson Marama Davidson says this Wednesday is the last day of Manurewa Marae's Whakapiki Ora programme, which has helped 72 whānau and found permanent homes for 28. 

The marae is unable to continue their good work without support and funding from the Ministry of Social Development. 

"Just last month, I got assurances from Minister Bennett in Parliament that she would provide more funding for services like Manurewa marae, but here we are a few weeks later seeing them close their doors because they can’t get the Government support they need to continue," Ms Davidson said.