There are currently 3185 community housing places funded from Income Related Rent subsidies throughout New Zealand and an increase in Housing New Zealand houses in Auckland, with another 3000 to be delivered over the next three years.
“We have also changed the rules so that people needing emergency accommodation can access a grant if they have to stay in motels. This was part of my Budget announcement of $41.1 million which is also helping current providers remain viable. We have signed contracts for almost all of the 800 emergency places throughout New Zealand at any one time, and I have a work programme under way to source more,” Mrs Bennett says.
MSD’s reporting on the time to house applicants for social housing records both the priority rating of the applicant and their current accommodation (eg. car, tent, emergency housing etc) as they appeared on their application at the time they were offered a property. An applicant's circumstances may have changed significantly from the time their application was placed on the Social Housing Register to the time they received an offer of housing. It would be incorrect to infer from the data that an applicant who went on the register as homeless or living in insecure accommodation is in that situation throughout course of their time on the register.
“There is absolutely no need for people to remain living in insecure housing. If they go to Work and Income, options will be discussed with them and if there are no emergency housing beds available they can be offered a non-recoverable grant to pay for accommodation.
“Phil Twyford has also made false claims about community housing providers (CHPs) not being able to provide places within the Government’s new funding parameters of providing up to 50 per cent in a grant and then paying Income Related Rent to the CHP up to market rent.
“We have more than 1000 places in the pipeline and every indication is that with the new funding parameters, CHPs will be able to build and lease significant new housing. Since we are currently in negotiations we cannot disclose who those negotiations are with,” Mrs Bennett says.
“I am very focused on providing more permanent houses and emergency places. Every week Housing New Zealand has on average 15 new places and we are scaling up and seeing an average of 150 people housed each week.
“There are always challenges. Building processes are never fast, whether that is due to resource consents, ensuring infrastructure is in place, or the actual building itself.
“There are also people challenges. Almost 14 per cent, or around 150, of the 1100 or so offers made each month are withdrawn due to HNZ not being able to contact the applicant after repeated attempts. Fewer than 2 per cent of HNZ properties are vacant at any one time so it is crucial people seriously consider the properties offered to them.
“Despite these challenges, we are making progress and will continue to do so,” Mrs Bennett says.