Exclusive: Housing crisis stalls Govt's plan to double refugee quota

The Government has stalled on plans to double New Zealand's refugee quota - and it's because of the housing crisis.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says Aotearoa need to sort that before it thinks about welcoming more refugees.

The refugee crisis is still very much a crisis, however, and the Government has pledged to do its bit.

"It is still my intention to see an increase in the refugee quota to 1500," says Mr Lees-Galloway.

This was a major campaign promise, but 10 months on it seems to have stalled, from what the Minister is saying.

"What we have to do is make sure we've got the capacity to take those extra people."

Translation: we just don't have enough homes.

"It's no good bringing in more people if we can't give them good resettlement opportunities here in New Zealand," says Mr Lees-Galloway.

New Zealand currently takes in 1000 refugees a year. They are settled in seven places around the country: Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Nelson, Dunedin and Invercargill.

Official figures show a housing shortfall in nearly all of those centres. Auckland is short nearly 45,000 homes, Hamilton almost 6000, Wellington 9000 and Dunedin is short more than 600.

But the figures show one city which is now doing okay - Christchurch, which has no shortage of houses. It was used as a resettlement centre before the 2011 earthquake, and Red Cross thinks it's time to open it up again.

"It'd be great to see Christchurch reopen again - it was always the city that just welcomed refugees so well," says Rachel O'Connor.

She says with 1.4 million people displaced across the globe, the situation is urgent.

"Any delay in increasing the quota can have very real humanitarian impacts, so that's why we'd like to see it happen as quickly as possible."

Newshub understands the Government had hoped to announce an increase to the quota on World Refugee Day. That was June 20 - a month ago.

Now the Minister is saying things like "in due course" and "it's my intention" - nowhere near as urgent as the language used on the election campaign


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