Emergency housing provider says Govt making it harder to find homes as waitlist balloons

Emergency housing provider says Govt making it harder to find homes as waitlist balloons
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An emergency housing provider says Government decisions are making it harder to find homes as the number of families on their waitlist balloons during the COVID-19 lockdown.

It comes as World Homeless Day approaches on October 10.

There are currently 279 families who have been approved for housing by Monte Cecilia Housing Trust but are waiting indefinitely because the trust can't secure any new homes to house them in.

A trust spokesperson said it was due to the Government scrapping redirect contracts - where community housing providers (CHPs) arrange to lease houses from property owners with the cost being split between the government and tenants.

"What makes it even more baffling is that 240 of the 279 approved families are Māori or Pacifica - New Zealand's most vulnerable groups who together represent 65 percent of the NZ Housing Wait Register," Monte Cecilia CEO Bernie Smith said. 

"The New Zealand Housing Wait Register has grown to over 30,000 but for some reason, the Government is jettisoning a key tool at a time when the need for it has never been higher. At the same time, the Government announced $55million for Community Housing Providers (CHPs) to use as capital to build homes, but crucially not in Auckland City – only the regions."

Smith said this comes as they are expecting a surge in families needing homes as lockdown eases in Auckland.

Over the current COVID-19 outbreak, Monte Cecilia has been unable to move families into new housing.

"The past weeks have been difficult for our staff to see families struggling and not be able to move them into new homes," Smith said. 

"We've seen instances where entire families have been forced to shelter in single-room motel units or where more than 20 people are crammed into a three-bedroom house. That kind of thing has a real impact on families' mental health as well as potentially their physical health since there’s no way to isolate if someone in their household catches COVID - there's nowhere they can go to escape it."

Monte Cecilia is calling on the public for help - including donations and volunteer time - as lockdown eases.