4 May 2018

Homelessness pledge makes problem 'manageable' - advocate

4:31 pm on 4 May 2018

The government's $100 million pledge to tackle homelessness will take the sector out of "crisis mode", a housing provider says.

Jacinda Ardern at the pre-Budget housing announcement.

Jacinda Ardern at the pre-Budget housing announcement. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

The government has announced it will spend an extra $100 million over four years to increase the number of places available for homeless people to stay.

But the National Party said the money was only a third of what it had pledged in 2016 while still in government.

Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford said just over a third of the $100m would go towards acquiring 1500 extra places to urgently house people this winter.

That included transitional and public housing and motel units.

The Housing First programme would get more than $63 million, to help those who are chronically homeless or have complex needs.

The initiative would put those people straight into long-term housing and provide wrap-around support.

Groups that help the homeless community in homes have largely applauded the announcement, including Te Puea marae chair Hurimoana Dennis.

"It's just taking it out crisis mode and putting into manageable mode," he said.

"They're putting the money where their mouth is and this is a government that I think has got a social conscience and we'll work with anyone who's going to help us."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Hurimoana Dennis at the announcement.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Hurimoana Dennis at the announcement. Photo: RNZ/Dan Cook

Scott Figenshow from Community Housing Aotearoa said groups were finally being acknowledged for their work, especially with Housing First.

"All of this is based on leadership that came out of the community housing sector with The People's Project in Hamilton was put forward," he said.

"What is significant here is that this is a time when government has actually partnered with the community housing sector to deliver on an initiative on a different way of organising things and we're quite pleased with that."

Emergency housing provider Monte Cecilia Trust said the announcement was brilliant but it wanted more emphasis on short-term housing.

Chiefexecutive Bernie Smith said emergency housing was crucial to long-term sustainability.

"Thirty-four years of providing emergency housing and Monte Cecilia has only seen three or four of those families not go on to long-term sustainable housing," he said.

However, National's social housing spokesperson Simon O'Connor said the announcement was not as ambitious as the government made it out to be.

"National was promising to spend three times as much in this social housing space so it's disappointing as the number of homeless goes up," he said.

"The government is actually reducing what National was prepared to spend."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs