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John Key labelled 'out of touch' for telling homeless Aucklanders to go to WINZ


Prime Minister John Key is advising people living in cars or garages because of Auckland's rocketing rents to go to their local Work and Income Office.

But the opposition says Mr Key is out of touch as the homeless have already been to WINZ.

ONE News Political Reporter Katie Bradford went to WINZ to investigate. Source: 1 NEWS

"But we are there to provide support as best we possibly can and all I can say to people is if somebody is homeless they should go and see Work and Income," Mr Key said. 

The Prime Minister says the data is imperfect but in the past year homeless people sought WINZ help.

"We liaise with various housing providers, see if they have any housing available for the particular client concerned. We will look at temporary options such as motels and other suitable temporary accommodation options," said Carl Crafar, Social Development Deputy Chief Exeuctive.

Labour leader Andrew Little says Mr Key is completely out of touch and homeless people can't get WINZ to understand how urgent their situation is.

"They give up in frustration and only alternative they've got is to look for a car, a garage, or somewhere else." 

Mangere Budgeting Services chief executive Darryl Evans says he's seeing more and more people every day who are living in such situations, and all have already gone to WINZ for help.

"They're going in, they are asking for food grants, they asking for accommodation assistance. For the most part they do get it, the problem is they can't be seen quickly," he said.

"The cost of housing now is crippling people. I recently on the weekend heard the Housing Minister talking about an affordable house in Auckland is mid-500s....With respect, I truly believe we need a reality check here."

Critics say WINZ is overworked and doing a job that used to be Housing New Zealand's role.

"On any given day we'll speak or see 40,000 people. So we do our best to ensure clients are getting consistent messages," Mr Crafar said.

The Government has already announced $41 million more spending for emergency housing initiatives.

But the Prime Minister says throwing more money at Auckland's housing crisis isn't the answer and freeing up land for supply is. 

So any more moves in next week's Budget are expected to be in that area.