The Salvation Army has criticised National MP Todd McClay's comments about moving emergency housing tenants out of Rotorua.
This morning the Rotorua MP expressed concern Australian tourists won't be able to stay in the city because there isn't enough accommodation available.
McClay says around 45 motels are being used as emergency housing which is making it tricky for tourists. He also suggested tourists might be put off from visiting because of the number of emergency housing tenants.
The Salvation Army said the comments are unhelpful and unkind.
"If Todd McClay wants people and families moved out of emergency/transitional housing in these motels, where does he propose they go? Housing in motels is not an ideal solution but what are the alternative options?
"The Salvation Army serves the most vulnerable and marginalised in our communities and that in many instances include those struggling with housing issues.
"McClay’s comments are not helpful and unkind to locals facing these housing issues," social policy advocate Ana Ika said.
Ika said homelessness, housing, drugs and crime were already issues in Rotorua before the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We can understand the frustrations of the locals and the levels of crime seen in the community. What we need is good solutions with long term benefits for the community, not knee-jerk political comments that add fuel to a tough situation."
Auckland Action Against Poverty also criticised the comments, saying they are "reflective of his privilege".
"The homelessness problem is of successive government's making and both Labour and National can take responsibility for why much of the accommodation in Rotorua now is being used for emergency and transitional shelters." AAAP coordinator Brooke Pao Stanley said.
"His comments are also reflective of his privilege and the fact we continue to prioritise businesses and tourists over housing our people - I'd like to see the same outrage for what drives people to homelessness in the first place."
It's not the first time locals have expressed frustration over the number of emergency housing providers. In March, residents said they felt unsafe and claimed crime was increasing.
Inspector Phil Taikato, area commander of Rotorua police, told Stuff at the time although crime has "relocated" from other neighbourhoods, overall crime in the city is down 10 percent over the past 12 months.
"Dare I say it, it's horrible to say, but you've got all these young brown bodies, people walking up and down Fenton St and people don't like it. It's a perception. I'm not going to say it's racism. It's just a perception there's more crime happening down there."