Housing situation now 'acute' emergency

Housing situation now 'acute' emergency

A community housing provider says if New Zealand's homelessness problem was a health issue, it would be considered a "code one" emergency.

Data from the Ministry of Social Development obtained by the Labour Party shows in the three months to June, it took an average of 217 days to rehouse people living in their cars. That's up from 108 days at the end of 2015.

It took 157 days to rehouse people living in tents or on the streets, up from 99 days in 2015.

Scott Figenshow from Community Housing Aotearoa says that's way too long.

"Emergency housing is supposed to be lasting not really much more than 12 weeks. The fact the wait list is almost two-and-a-half times what short-term accommodation would be is quite troubling."

He says homelessness is now an "acute" problem that needs urgent attention.

"We don't ask people to wait 30 weeks for heart surgery, do we? We shouldn't be asking people to wait in the housing system either.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says there will be more social housing available in Auckland soon. She recently announced another $24.4 million for social housing, and that it would boost its contribution to new builds to 50 percent.

Mr Figenshow wants the Government to commit to 10 years of building to alleviate the housing crisis in the long-term and make sure it doesn't happen again.

"That's the kind of scale of response that would signal to the sector that the Government was serious about wanting to deliver new supply, and to continue to do so for a very long time."  

The leaked figures also show number of people on the Government's social housing register has increased 52 percent since last year.