Thursday, February 29, 2024

Millions spent on emergency housing

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Botany-based Labour List MP Naisi Chen, left, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo supplied

The Labour Government spent almost $3 million providing emergency housing to people in east Auckland in the six months from March to August this year.

Information Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni recently provided to Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown shows how much money has been spent on emergency housing special needs grants in the Howick Local Board area.

The grants are available to people “who cannot remain in their usual place of residence, if any, and will not have access to other accommodation which is adequate for their or their family’s needs”, according to the MSD website.

The data provided to Brown shows in March this year $608,254 was spent on such grants locally.

That was followed by $471,687 in April, $431,111 in May, $442,148 in June, $328,586 in July, and $443,333.12 in August, for a total of just over $2.7 million in six months.

The Times reported in October the amount spent locally on the grants has exploded since 2017.

Just $33,354 was spent on them in the Howick ward area in January 2017.

The figure shrank in January the following year before ballooning to $175,772 in January 2020.

It then exploded to $456,565 in January last year, with January this year recording a figure of $559,303.

Brown previously said the Labour Government came into office promising to fix New Zealand’s housing crisis “but the reality is things have got much worse under their leadership”.

“What we’re seeing now is significant amounts of money being spent on emergency housing, which is money that’s not being put into building new houses.”

Botany-based Labour List MP Naisi Chen says the amount being spent on emergency housing grants locally is a sign of a “huge problem and it’s built over decades”.

“That’s why I believe in social housing and public housing and unfortunately that stock grows slower than our needs at the moment.

“People like the Salvation Army have come into the electorate to partner [with the Government] and the Ministry of Social Development is paying for those tenants.

“Build-to-rent housing programmes from non-governmental organisations, and all of that, I think is part of this multi-faceted solution.”

Chen is referring to the Salvation Army’s $18.6 million ‘Kaitiakitanga’ social housing complex in Chapel Road, Flat Bush.

It includes 46 units and was opened by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in June last year.

Chen says the Government doesn’t want to see people end up living in motels, but it’s better than them living in a vehicle.

“The test is to make motels a transition rather than the end goal, so we need to move them into public housing.

“We’re building [public housing] at the fastest rate since the 1980s. All of that stuff will never happen overnight.

“People say, ‘you’ve had five years [in Government]’, but tens of thousands of houses don’t come back in five years’ time either.

“Throw in a pandemic and shortages of GIB board, and we had to build a workforce of drain layers, builders, carpenters.

“Then you throw in the actual housing crisis by itself.

“The commitment and the money have been invested into social and public housing and that’s what we need to keep doing.”

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