Housing cupboard is bare
Emergency housing has run out in Gisborne and something must be done urgently, says Tairawhiti Beneficiary Advocacy Trust co-ordinator Shelley Hannah-King.
There is a desperate need for emergency accommodation but all providers are “full-up”, she says.
“The long-term plan is one thing but I need a ‘now plan’,” she says.
“People are living in overcrowded housing — living with friends or associates — and sometimes it is unsafe.
“Some of them have children so that’s what concerns me.”
Ministry of Social Development regional commissioner Annie Aranui said they were working with every accommodation supplier willing to engage with them and their clients.
“At times we need to support whanau to consider options outside of the region due to a lack of available accommodation.
“This is not our preferred option for whanau, however, it’s important people have somewhere to stay until a more permanent solution is found,” she said.
Ms Hannah-Kingi is seeing new people on a daily basis looking for somewhere to live, but because of there being no emergency housing available, she cannot offer a solution.
“I am worried about their safety. Some are couch-hopping or staying in their cars, but some don’t even have a car.”
Tairawhiti Beneficiary Advocacy Trust offers support by finding out what clients are entitled to as far as Work and Income (WINZ) is concerned.
The emergency housing situation has gradually gotten to this stage, she says.
“Normally people would get in contact and we would refer them to MSD, who would find them somewhere.”
The official number of people on the Public Housing Register to the end of June was 484 but by her calculations it was now as high as 550.
Public housing figures for the period to the end of September should become available soon.
“In the short term, we need more emergency housing providers here until more houses are built.”
There is a shortage of rental accommodation available and it is not only people on benefits struggling to find somewhere to live.
“We have working people who are on low incomes contacting us needing help finding housing, too.”
Those on benefits and low-income earners were also often unable to pay increasingly high rents.
“We need more transitional housing in our area because our emergency housing isn’t covering it.”
One solution could be bringing in cabins and locating people at places like Showgrounds or Churchill parks.
“If we can accommodate thousands for R&V, surely something similar could be set up for people who really need it,” Ms Hannah-Kingi says.
The housing crisis in Gisborne is worse than in Hawke’s Bay when comparing population and emergency housing numbers.
Ms Aranui says the Government has a wider programme of work under way aimed at increasing the supply of public housing and improving housing affordability and supply.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) leads the programme of work on New Zealand’s housing and urban development.
This includes planning, and with Kainga Ora - Home and Communities, delivering more public housing, transitional housing, and services to tackle homelessness, she says.
HUD is also working to improve housing affordability and supply for aspiring home owners.