Opinion: What. A. Blowout.
The Government's response to homelessness has been exposed as completely underestimating the problem.
The 'emergency housing grant' has had a massive blowout in its numbers.
It has paid out almost the entire four year budget for emergency housing grants in just three months.
It only budgeted $2 million a year to fund 1400 grants. But from October to December last year $7.7m was spent on 8860.
If this blowout continues it will cost $30m a year - that's 15 times what the Government predicted.
But the money is a side issue. This is about people living in motels because there is nowhere else to live.
Put it this way: the Government thought there would be 1400 people needing motels in a year - but there were 8860 in just three months.
It was heartbreaking for me to see multiple sclerosis sufferer Maria Leka battling away in a west Auckland motel on Sunday.
That's the reality here; there are 8860 people like her.
Former Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett now admits she has no idea how big the problem is.
Prime Minister Bill English is saying there were clearly "hidden homeless" who didn't come forward with their issues until the grant became available.
This blowout shows the Government is still failing to get the homelessness crisis under control - it simply does not understand the problem.