28 Jul 2016

A month in, 12 Auckland exit grants given out

6:54 pm on 28 July 2016

So far, there have been 12 successful applications for the government's $5000 grant to move out of Auckland.

The policy began a month ago and was aimed at helping people in, or waiting for, social housing in Auckland to leave the city by giving them up to $5000.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett said the policy was off to a good start.

"Although it is still early days, I am pleased to see people are taking up the offer of help," Mrs Bennett said.

The 12 non-recoverable grants would help support 32 people.

Six were moving to private accommodation with the other half moving to social housing in areas including Invercargill, Rotorua, Tokoroa, and Tawa.

One applicant was homeless and four were in emergency housing.

"I'm particularly pleased to see that five applicants are moving to jobs," Mrs Bennett said.

"We introduced this grant to remove the cost barrier for people who may want to move to cheaper regions where they may have family and other support networks, but simply cannot afford it."

A further 10 applicants had their relocation grants approved but were still working on confirming moving dates and shifting costs, the minister said.

A total $54,508 had been paid out so far, covering moving costs, bond, rent in advance and letting fees.

Salvation Army community ministries secretary Pam Waugh said the charity never expected many people to take up the grant.

She said most families relied on their local connections, so moving was a big ask.

"I'm interested in why the number is quite low, but if it's working well for people that did [apply] ... We couldn't see a huge amount of our clients taking that up."

Ms Waugh said more would likely apply as frustration with Auckland's housing shortage grew.

Monte Cecilia Housing Trust spokesman Bernie Smith disagreed, saying take-up would probably decline from here, and he would be surprised if more than a couple of dozen signed up by Christmas.

He said he thought five times as many would have taken the offer, because more than 100 people had registered their interest.

"I'm not sure how they're going to promote it further to get the numbers anywhere near that. If we've got 12 in the first month, we're probably lucky to get another couple of dozen between now and Christmas at this rate."

Mr Smith said, despite the tiny number, at least some people were in a better situation.

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