Housing crisis: Emergency motel stays averaging three months, some tenants stuck there for over a year

Emergency housing is meant to be short-term, just a few weeks or so until tenants can find new homes, but instead they're being stuck in motels for months on end.

Newshub can reveal the average stay is now three months and that nearly 800 people have been living in motels for more than six months. Some of them are there longer than a year.  

Rosaline Stanley has lived in a motel with her husband and son for a year.

"It's not a home, it's a motel," she tells Newshub.

"[Without it] we'd be homeless on the street. Yes, it's a beautiful motel, but it's not suitable for families to live here for a whole year.

"It's driving us crazy. It's not a good environment, especially for our children."

But Stanley and her family aren't the only ones with an extended stay. The average is now 12.7 weeks, or about three months, but many are staying longer.

Figures released exclusively to Newshub show in the three months to December last year, 1002 households had been living in motels for three to six months, a further 672 had been there for six to 12 months, and 120 have been living in emergency accommodation longer than a year.

"This was only ever meant to be a short-term fix, but under Labour people are spending months upon months living in motels," says Nicola Willis, the National Party's housing spokesperson.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says housing people long-term in motel units is not a long-term solution.

"I would rather someone in a temporary solution that is a shelter than a car," she says.

Information obtained by Newshub shows the Government has spent an average of $366 a night housing people at the motel Stanley and her family is living at. Add that up every night over a year and it's a total of more than $130,000, enough for a deposit on a house.

"Instead of building more houses and looking for real solutions it's just paying the cheque to motels," Willis says. "That's not good enough. It's not value for the taxpayer and it's not value for the people living in these motels."

Marama Davidson, Associate Minister of Housing (Homelessness), says more transitional housing is coming, which is the stepping stone between motels and a more permanent solution.

"We've got transitional housing right now. It's not enough, I'm very clear about that too, I want us to do more. I'm not satisfied," she says.

The Government's already increased transitional housing by 2254 places and 2000 more transitional homes were funded in last year's budget.

It's a drop in the bucket when more than 22,000 people are waiting for a state house.