12 Apr 2020

Covid-19 lockdown: Nearly 1000 motel units available for homeless

6:27 am on 12 April 2020

Nearly 1000 motel units have been made available for the homeless community since the lockdown began.

General vision of homelessness in Auckland central city.

Photo: RNZ / Luke McPake

Minister for Housing Megan Woods said nearly 500 units were already filled and each unit could contain one person or a family.

"As of Thursday evening, 962 motel units in 15 towns and cities across New Zealand had been secured and made available, and 496 units already have homeless and vulnerable people living in them," she said.

Government agencies were working very closely with iwi, community housing providers such as Housing First, Māori organisations, and local government to fill the remaining units, Woods said.

She praised the various community groups for their dedication and speed.

Housing Minister Megan Woods

Housing Minister Megan Woods Photo: RNZ / Ana Tovey

"In the last two weeks, there has been a massive effort to connect people who are homeless and living rough, with accommodation and social services.

"Many have been living on the streets or in unsuitable places where social distancing was not possible."

Woods said support services were ensuring people had ongoing support including assisting people with food parcels, hygiene packs and occasionally phones.

"Community groups also tell me more people who have been living rough are now coming forward for help, so now they have started engaging they can continue to help them."

Most motels had been rented for about three months and the government was looking at longer term measures to keep people housed post-lockdown, she said.

"We certainly don't want people going back onto the street," she said.

Woods said the priority after lockdown would be reaching the 1000 transitional houses places as set out in the Homelessness Action Plan.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP - don't show up at a medical centre

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