A third of new social housing ready despite Govt claims 'most' were available

The Government will be hard pushed to meet its pledge of 1500 new social housing places before the end of this winter, according to a Salvation Army social policy expert.

"It's unrealistic to think you can find 1500 more places by the end of winter. It's just not going to happen. There's just not the capacity there to do that," Alan Johnson told Newshub Nation on Saturday.

But the Government thinks it is possible, announcing a $37 million dollar investment to urgently increase social housing supply to help the homeless this winter.

"No one needs to live in a car this winter," said Housing Minister Phil Twyford at the announcement last Friday.

He said the 1500 places are "all secured and they're all funded".

"They're a mix of new and additional public housing, so state- and community-provided housing, transitional and emergency housing, and Housing First places."

The Housing First scheme finds homes for the long-term homeless and those with multiple or complex needs.

"Most of them are available now but we're going to continue through the winter to meet that target of 1500," said Mr Twyford.

"We've made really great progress in the last six months and we'll continue to go flat out through the winter."

But figures released by Mr Twyford's office show just 36 percent of the 1500 places are available now, and most of those are in transitional housing.  

Only 306 of the 1071 new state housing places are ready, and 236 of the 416 transitional housing places.

No details were provided for the other 13 places promised.

The Government's also pledged to build 1000 new social houses each year, but Mr Johnson says that number needs to be doubled to keep up with demand.

"We think 2000 is the minimum - that's what we require to stop things getting worse," he told Lisa Owen.

"Particularly with an aging population of people who don't own their own house when they reach retirement. There's going to be massive demand from that group of people as well."

Around 127,000 people over 65 will need rental accommodation by 2020, according to the Salvation Army's 2017 report Taking Stock: The Demand for Social Housing in New Zealand.

"Either the Government or Housing New Zealand need to stump up with some serious cash to build these houses… social houses, state houses," said Mr Johnson.

"There is some serious money that needs to be borrowed or found from tax revenue to fund this, and we think in the order of a billion dollars a year… for ten years."

Newshub Nation.

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