7 Jul 2016

Labour makes emergency housing pledge

7:22 pm on 7 July 2016

Labour is pledging to pump $15 million a year into emergency housing, by adding a further 1400 beds around the country.

Labour leader Andrew Little announcing an emergency housing package.

The party's leader, Andrew Little, is promising the funding for four years, and said it would create 1400 new beds and house over 5000 people a year.

Mr Little said the party would also provide an additional $60 million over four years for supported transitional accommodation to help get people off the streets.

Mr Little could not say how many of the beds would be in Auckland, where the need was acute.

"Not quite sure of the breakdown, you'd expect the bulk of them would be in Auckland because that's where the biggest homeless problem is, but let's remind ourselves too that we have homelessness across New Zealand," he said, while making the announcement at Monte Cecilia Housing Trust's facility in Mangere in south Auckland.

Monte Cecilia Housing Trust chief executive Bernie Smith welcomed the pledge, even though there was little detail. He said the government's recent commitment of $10m a year was just maintaining existing beds.

"To date, we've had to go with a begging bowl to trusts and other organisations to get that funding, so I'm not saying it's not a good thing - it's excellent - but there's no cream on the cake for us to have a sinking fund to allow more development," he said.

Minister of Social Housing Paula Bennett has praised Labour for picking up what she said was the government's policy, but wondered how they would deliver it.

"I'm not sure where they're going to get the beds from, whether they're going to magic them up with some sort of imaginary beds that are sitting there at the moment," she said.

Mr Little said recent research estimated there were over 4000 people sleeping rough and said the National Party had spent years turning a blind eye.

Today's move was the the first of three housing policies Mr Little would announce, as the Labour Party marked its 100th year.

Other policies to be released over the weekend are likely to focus on increasing supply through house building, and dampening demand through an extension to the existing "brightline test", under which capital gain is taxed on some houses bought and sold within two years.

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