The demand for emergency housing has skyrocketed in Wellington in just three years, but there’s hope today’s opening of the city’s largest transitional housing facility will alleviate some of that pressure.
The well-known, zebra-striped building on Tory Street was originally a backpackers before it was refurbished to be a boutique hotel. It never eventuated, and now the Wellington City Mission is using it for transitional housing for over 100 people.
“Nothing changed in the specification and I think that's gorgeous,” Wellington City Missioner Murray Edridge told 1 NEWS.
“I think it's awesome we can give them the best we can give them,” he said.
He hopes lives will be changed in this building and people “will be given opportunities they perhaps haven’t had before”.
Each resident here signs a three-month contract and it’s hoped after that they’ll be back on their own two feet.
In a statement, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development says it’s “pressing ahead” to build more transitional housing so “we can reduce and eventually end our reliance on motels as a form of temporary accommodation”.
Recent statistics show a record high of 4,368 children are now living in motels. The Ministry said motels aren’t an ideal solution but “they are preferable to people living in cars, staying in overcrowded housing, sleeping in parks or on the street”.
The housing situation is particularly dire in Wellington.
1 NEWS obtained statistics showing the number of people needing emergency housing in the capital has increased nearly 600 per cent in 3 years, jumping from 108 to 687 people, and because they’re waiting so long for housing, the cost of temporary accommodation has soared too now totalling more than $7 Million.
National’s Nicola Willis says rents have gone up hugely and “more and more people are finding themselves having to line up at the government” for support to be housed.
The new transitional housing facility also has a big focus on security, especially since crime in the Wellington CBD has increased significantly in the last few years.
The building is split into four areas; men, women, transgender and couples, and each part can only be accessed by swipe card.
There is also 24/7 security and 9pm curfews.