Community leader calls for end to vulnerable youth being shunted into emergency motels

The youth leader of a charity working to get vulnerable people into permanent accommodation says young people are being traumatised in emergency motels.

Aaron Hendry from Lifewise told The AM Show the Government's use of motels for emergency accommodation is "just not a viable option".

"We're putting 16, 17-year-olds who are already traumatised, who have had a really rough go of it and we're putting them straight into motels where people have the same issues."

He says he has been in talks with the Government - but is yet to see any concrete action taken.

"We're still waiting to see urgent action on this. One of the solutions we can see is 24/7 wraparound support so our rangatahi are safe and secure."

At the moment, the motels are so dangerous some youth would rather be on the street.

"In some cases… some of them have been on the streets, and they've been put in a motel and they've felt more safe on the street and go back."

He says often the young people being placed in emergency housing have been through a lot, and have developed incredible resilience as a result.

"On the street they can often find community, and if they feel they're in a dangerous place, they can go somewhere else and in a motel there is nothing they can do, they can't go somewhere else."

Thousands of people are currently living in emergency accommodation, and Hendry says there needs to be more work done to support Aotearoa's most vulnerable.

Ideally, he wants a 24/7 service where youth in trouble could go and know they had a bed at least for the night.

"We [would] have youth workers on-site to look after them, social services for healing and recovery while we work on that journey towards permanent accommodation."

He says if the Government is "bold and courageous" now it could give solutions to end homelessess for good - and something drastic must change, if New Zealand wants to protect its children.

"The outcomes for these rangitahi - the trauma will be with them for the rest of their lives."