Government steps up action to prevent homelessness

  • 1000 new transitional housing places delivered by end of year to reduce demand for emergency motel accommodation.
  • Introduce 25% of income payment, after 7 days, for those in emergency motel accommodation to bring in line with other forms of accommodation support.
  • Over $70m extra to programmes that prevents those at risk of losing their rentals becoming homeless and support people out of motels and into permanent accommodation.
  • Alongside these immediate actions, there is a long-term plan of action to address and reduce homelessness.

More vulnerable New Zealanders will be moved from emergency motel accommodation to transitional housing as the Government steps up efforts to prevent and reduce homelessness.

The Aotearoa New Zealand Homelessness Action Plan, released today, will also see an increase of 1,000 transitional housing places by the end of the year, adding to the over 1,300 places already created since the Government was formed, further reducing the reliance on leased motels for emergency accommodation. 

Additionally, to ensure parity with other tenants in social housing, a 25% of income payment will be introduced for people staying in motels for longer than 7 days.

“This Government inherited a homelessness crisis decades in the making when we took office, that will take time to fix. The previous Government left us with a chronic shortage of houses and were selling off state houses that people desperately needed,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“We campaigned on tackling housing and homelessness and we are delivering. This Government has put a public housing building programme into action on a scale that hasn’t been seen in New Zealand for 40 years.

“We have already added over 4,000 new public housing places since taking office. Over half the funding in this package will go towards making even more accommodation available which will reduce the reliance on motels as emergency accommodation

“On coming into office, our immediate priority was to get people out of sleeping in cars and garages or on the street and into safe and warm accommodation.” Jacinda Ardern said.

“This next step in our plan aims to both prevent people becoming homeless in the first place and reduce the reliance on motels for emergency accommodation by increasing the supply of transitional housing,” Associate Housing Minister Kris Faafoi said.

“Over $70 million in this package is dedicated to programmes that are proven to work in helping vulnerable New Zealander’s to stay in their homes and not end up on the streets.

“The Homelessness Action Plan builds on our Government’s commitment to ensure New Zealanders, particularly our most vulnerable, who are in need of housing support get that support with urgency,” Kris Faafoi said.

“Motels were only ever intended as short-term emergency accommodation of up to seven days, but the average length of stay has increased to over seven weeks,” Housing Minister Megan Woods said.

“Motels are not a suitable environment for vulnerable individuals, families and whanau and they are also not cost effective so we will provide 1,000 more transitional housing places by the end of the year in order to reduce the numbers on motels. 

“Alongside our state house build this Government will increase the supply of temporary accommodation to reduce the use of motels for emergency housing,” Megan Woods said.

“We want to make housing costs as consistent and fair as possible for all families and people who receive government housing support – no matter what type of housing they’re in,” Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said.

“Currently emergency accommodation is the only form of housing where tenants aren’t required to make any payment contribution. All other people receiving housing support contribute a small part-payment for their accommodation, which is an anomaly.

“We need to ensure that emergency accommodation is reserved for those who need it most and that there is parity between those receiving different types of housing support,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

The full set of measures are detailed in the Aotearoa New Zealand Homelessness Action Plan https://www.hud.govt.nz/community-and-public-housing/support-for-people-in-need/homelessness-action-plan/

Details of Aotearoa New Zealand Homelessness Action Plan package, backed by over $300m of extra funding, include:

  • $175m to deliver 1,000 additional transitional housing places by the end of 2020
  • $25.6m extra to the Sustaining Tenancies programme to help those at risk of losing their rental with practical support including budget advice, property maintenance, and mental health and addiction support
  • $20m to work with Māori to prevent homelessness & expand housing supply that delivered by Māori
  • $17.5m to support young people leaving Oranga Tamariki care into accommodation with wrap around support services
  • $16.3m to help acute mental health and addiction inpatients transition into the community with housing and other wrap-around support
  • $13.5m to pilot a rapid re-housing approach for people receiving Emergency Housing Special Needs Grants
  • $19.8 million to expand intensive case manager or navigator support services for people in emergency housing longer than 7 nights
  • $8.7 million for a new housing broker service to connect with local landlords and help more MSD clients secure private rental homes
  • $740,000 to fund programmes to help people gain skills and confidence to secure and manage a private rental home
  • $9.3 million to support the wellbeing needs of children in emergency housing, such paying for transport to school or early childhood education