More motels bought to house homeless

Govt denies link to State housing cuts

Ay Adams
Carmel Sepuloni

Social Housing Minister Amy Adams says the Government plans to buy another two motels to put up homeless people.
The new purchases come on top of the four motels already bought by the Ministry of Social Development for emergency housing.
The Government began funding emergency housing for the first time in late 2015 because of drastic housing shortages and rising costs, and its role in the sector continues to expand.
In all, it has now spent $350 million on emergency housing, creating around 8600 places.
The Labour Party said the Government appeared to be making up for its failure to increase the State housing stock in recent years.
Social development spokeswoman Carmel Sepuloni said in Parliament yesterday the motels were bought in areas where State houses had been sold or demolished.
“Is there a connection between the Government buying a motel in Gisborne, where there has been a loss of 62 State houses, a motel in Hastings, where there has been a loss of 14 State houses, or buying a motel in Napier, where there has been a loss of 137 State houses?”
Ms Adams rejected any connection, saying the new emergency and transitional housing places served a different purpose.
“Where State houses are sold, it has been because they have been in poor condition, in the wrong place, or they’ve been the wrong configuration.”
Ms Adams also denied the Government had not acted fast enough to address the housing crisis. Her Government was “proud” to be the first to fund transitional housing, because it meant people were not sleeping in cars, she said.
A building programme announced by the National-led Government earlier this year includes plans for 5000 to 6000 new social homes in the next 10 years.
A Salvation Army report released this week warned this would not be enough, and at least 20,000 new houses were needed to deal with growing numbers of homeless.
The Government’s official measure for housing affordability was also updated today, showing no significant change for renters and buyers.
Affordability for renters in Auckland city improved slightly between June 2015 and March 2016 the latest data available while affordability for potential homebuyers remained unchanged.
The affordability measure examines household incomes, subtracts the cost of buying or renting and compares that to a 2013 benchmark to track affordability over time.
It showed that housing was “unaffordable” for 51% of New Zealanders and 68% of Aucklanders. The national figure for first-home buyers was higher, at 77%. NZME

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