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Government injects another $300m into emergency housing

More emergency housing places, more support for tenants and more frontline staff have been funded in the next step in the Government’s comprehensive housing plan.

The funding boost of more than $300 million will be enough for up to an extra 1400 places at any one time, 600 in Auckland and the remaining 800 places in areas of high demand around the country.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says that’s an ambitious goal but the Government has set up a cross-agency team to secure suitable properties around the country and, in Auckland, build new ones if necessary.

The $303.6 million package, over this financial year and the next four, is made up of:

  • $120 million in capital funding to build, buy or lease properties suitable for emergency housing. $100 million of this will be as a loan to HNZ.
  • $71 million in rental subsidies.
  • $102 million for providers to support, stabilise and help tenants into longer-term housing
  • $10.4 million for more dedicated frontline MSD staff to work with people who need emergency housing or are on the social housing register

The extra emergency housing places will be delivered in a number of ways, including using vacant Crown land, Mrs Bennett says.

“For example, Housing New Zealand is building more than 40 homes in Otahuhu, Auckland, on land it has leased from the Ministry of Education. The development will be ready by early 2017.

“We’ll also use vacant Crown-owned properties where they are available, purchase accommodation facilities and lease properties as needed in areas of high demand.

“These new places will be in addition to the more than 3000 places per year and special needs grants for accommodation we have already funded to the tune of $41.6 million in Budget 2016.

“In total, we’re aiming for more than 8600 places per year, as well as continuing to provide access to alternative accommodation when contracted emergency places are not available,” Mrs Bennett says.

“Especially in Auckland, the strong market has made it hard to find new places but with this funding we have made sure it’s not money that’s holding us back. The Government wanted to make sure that we could seize every opportunity and be as flexible as possible to support the great work emergency housing providers are already doing in this space.

“This procurement work is already well underway. In addition to developing housing on Crown land in Otahuhu, work is progressing on modular housing at three sites across Auckland and Housing New Zealand has bought a motel in Takanini, Auckland.”

Tags: paula bennett - emergency housing