Homeless crisis costing Govt $100,000 a day for motels

The Government has spent an average of almost $100,000 per night housing the homeless in motels this year.

The cost of the emergency housing grant in the first three months this year was more than $8.8 million - which works out to an average of $98,167 a night. 

The $8.8 million is well above the Government's expectations.

As part of an overall $345 million investment in emergency housing, the Government only budgeted $2 million per year for an estimated 1400 emergency housing grants - which pay for urgent motel stays for families in need.

But it has well and truly blown that budget in the first three months of this year - the Ministry of Social Development has handed out 9218 emergency housing grants.

Labour's housing spokesman Phil Twyford says the homeless problem is now an "epidemic".

"They're spending money on motels like there's no tomorrow. At this rate they'll be spending $33 million a year putting up homeless families in motels."

"The Government's main response has been to put up thousands of New Zealand families into motels and we've seen precious little action either in building additional emergency housing or tackling the fundamentals of the housing crisis that got us into this mess in the first place."

The first proper data available was the three months to December last year when the cost was $7.7 million. It brings the total spent on emergency motels to $16.5 million.

That means the Government has spent more than eight times its yearly budget in just six months.

The total number of grants for the nine months to December is 23,528 - 16 times the number expected to be handed out annually.