Pasifka-run emergency housing opens in Auckland but some say 'sadly this is just a drop in the bucket'

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1 NEWS

New emergency housing run by a Pasifika group launched today in South Auckland and aims to help 84 families a year.

Penina Health is the first Pacific provider under the Government's social housing reform programme.
Source: 1 NEWS

Penina Health is the first Pacific provider under the Government's social housing reform programme, and there's more in the pipeline.

Torin Harris was impressed today when he got a tour of his new emergency housing unit which is a far cry from the cold, crowded boarding house he's currently in.

"The last couple of months have been difficult. Being localised around the area it'll be great because all my medical needs are here, centralised. And with the help of Penina Health it will be quite excellent," Mr Harris told 1 NEWS.

Penina Health will get $2.5 million from government over three years to run the 22 emergency housing units and also provide help for those who come through.

On average people will stay in the units for around three months before moving to a state house. While at the units they'll have access to a number of services including budgeting and health.

"Because we have operated in South Auckland, we know the realities for our people here," said Tupuola Roine Lealaiaulotu, Penina Health CEO.

Those realities make grim statistics. Pasifika make up around 13 per cent of those waiting for a state house and a quarter of all social housing tenants.

Sadly this is just a drop in the bucket, a tiny drop"
Phil Twyford, Labour's housing spokesperson

"By having a Pacific provider - this is the first Penina Health Trust, we have another four more that we are working with to come on board as well - it means that we have Pacific working with Pacific," said Alfred Ngaro, Minister of Pacific Peoples.

Critics say it's too little too late.

"Sadly this is just a drop in the bucket, a tiny drop. We have what has been termed the worst rate of homelessness in the western world," said Phil Twyford, Labour's housing spokesperson.

But Penina Health says partnering with government makes a difference, and next year it intends to expand into social housing, planning to build 20 homes.

"We have already worked with or banks to look at how much they can loan us. So there is a big risk for our organisation, but equally there is a huge gain that we can have because we are very much short of houses," said Tupuola Roine Lealaiaulotu.

It's a shortage of homes for those who most need them.

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