9 Feb 2023

Auckland flooding: Government still considering longer term options for displaced people

10:07 am on 9 February 2023
The home of Kannan Thiru was surrounded by a large pool of water still on Wednesday afternoon.

The home of Kannan Thiru was surrounded by a large pool of water still on Wednesday afternoon. Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

A kitty of portable cabins is on standby to provide a roof over the head for people displaced in Auckland's flooding.

The government has activated the Temporary Accommodation Service, which is tasked with providing accommodation for those displaced in a natural disaster.

Response recovery manager Julia Shanahan said they have 32 bespoke, self-contained, one-bedroom and two-bedroom cabins ready to be deployed.

"What we're exploring at the moment is either placing them on individual properties or looking at something more like a village formation, we're looking at both options."

Exactly where these will go will depend on how suitable land was and where they were most needed.

People will be placed in commercial accommodation providers, such as hotels and motels, while longer temporary options were found - and all options were on the table.

"We've looked at many different supply options so campervans are something that we've looked at. At the moment, we haven't decided to deploy any, but it's definitely something that we'll consider," Shanahan said.

"In terms of supply, we know that it's going to be challenging, so nothing's off the table. We are looking far and wide to see what's available and then we will whittle that down depending on what households will need."

For now, Shanahan urges anyone displaced by the flooding in Auckland to contact the Temporary Accommodation Service via its website or 0800 number.

"Even if people are staying with friends and whānau but may be thinking that they need a longer term accommodation solution, we'd encourage them to register so we can consider the supply and demand for the future."

Shanahan said they were focused on placing people in or near the community they live in.

Those already staying in emergency housing will be automatically transferred to the Temporary Accommodation Service and can expect to be contacted within days.

Kadijah was among those living in emergency accommodation, and was in a hotel in the central city.

She had just moved to Auckland to study law when the flooding took out the rental she was due to move into.

"The accommodation is completely buggered, in other words it's a shamble. They would have to touch base with the council, do all the checks and stuff like that to see if it's safe for people to stay in and so far it's deemed as unsafe."

Khadijah and the other families staying at the hotel were worried about finding a home, she said.

"A lot of us are worried because we're only allocated a certain amount of time here, and if we ever do get that knock on the door or phone call saying that 'hey, you need to look at moving, your time's up, they've only paid for a certain amount of time' - not only myself, others are worried about where we will head next."

She has been told she can stay at the hotel, which was part of the emergency accommodation response, for two weeks.

They have questions that need answers, she said.

"Will someone come and speak to us all here in order to try and get us placed in permanent housing, how much does that cost each week, is it going to be market rent or affordable ... [so we can] maintain secure accommodation?"

Living in a hotel has its challenges and many agencies were offering support, including the Society of St Vincent de Paul.

General manager Delphina Soti said a young couple with a baby signed up for support, and talked about how hard families were finding living in emergency accommodation such as hotels.

"They also managed to talk to us about some other families that are there, who were struggling as well just to make sense of it all. It's not easy living in a hotel and not having access to hot meals."

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