14 May 2021

Rotorua emergency housing plan 'just the start' of dealing with the issue

9:40 am on 14 May 2021

Rotorua's housing issues have been a problem for a long time, and the welcomed government help with emergency housing in the city is just the start of tackling the issue, the mayor says.

Koon Chakhatrakan

Rotorua (file image). Photo: Unsplash / Koon Chakhatrakan

But National Party MP for Rotorua Todd McClay said the plan was missing an important part.

Yesterday, the government announced it would directly contract motels for emergency accommodation in the city for group families and children together in particular motels, and provide social support services.

Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick told Morning Report the council had been calling for government to come and work with it.

"We have had a taskforce working in Rotorua since I raised a very real concern and this is the beginning of a solution but it's a long-term plan needed here.

"This isn't a situation that has developed overnight. We were facing a housing crisis and then it was made much worse after Covid. That's probably a housing shortage, rising rents, lack of rental properties and increasing population and also the need for more social housing.

"This is something that was actually an issue for us a long time ago.

"But I have now got through real concerns of mothers and children in motels and the government has responded."

Those argued to be posing the risk in emergency housing situations were "still an issue".

"People living in motels is not a long-term solution for housing, I've said that again and again and we need to be building more houses."

In the short term, housing solutions for mothers and children were being focused on, Chadwick said.

"Then we have got to turn our attention... [to] wrap-around services."

National Party MP for Rotorua Todd McClay told Morning Report he was pleased there was help on the way for mothers and children and that wrap-around support would be offered.

However, there were not enough support services in the city, he said.

There was also a key element missing, McClay said.

"What the announcement yesterday doesn't do is show an actual plan to get people out of motels...

"Ultimately, the solution is not dumping people in hotels long-term. They don't actually want to be there... what was disappointing about the announcement yesterday was there was nothing about housing."