Our government is stepping up to prevent and reduce homelessness in New Zealand.
The Aotearoa New Zealand Homelessness Action Plan, which was released last week, establishes a framework and funding to help the homeless into sustainable housing.
This follows a decade of denial and neglect under National, which sold off state houses as the numbers of homeless grew dramatically.
For a start, we will move more vulnerable New Zealanders from emergency motel accommodation to transitional housing.
New transitional homes
A thousand new transitional housing places will be delivered by end of 2020 to reduce demand for emergency motel accommodation.
This is in addition to about 1300 places already created.
We have campaigned on addressing housing and homelessness and we are delivering during the short time we have held office.
We will introduce a 25% of income payment, after seven days for those in emergency motel accommodation to bring in line with other similar accommodation support payments.
We have allocated over $70 million for programmes that will help people who are at the risk of losing their rentals and becoming homeless and also to support people out of motels and into permanent accommodation.
Alongside these immediate actions, we are looking at long-term plans of action to reduce homelessness.
We have initiated a public housing building programme that hasn’t been seen in New Zealand for 40 years. On assuming office, our immediate priority was to get people out of sleeping in cars and garages or on the streets into safe and warm accommodation.
A major investment in ‘Housing First’ which moves the homeless into housing and then works to deal with underlying issues such as mental health and addiction, is already seeing promising results in keeping people off the streets.
Additional funding will also enable preventing homelessness among Maori and expand housing supply that is delivered by Maori.
More funds will enable supporting of young people who are leaving Oranga Tamariki care into suitable accommodation with wrap around support services for them.
Mental Health services
Acute mental health services as well as addiction inpatients transiting into community with housing and other support services will also be funded.
Ministry of Social Development will also launch a new housing broker service which will connect with local landlords and support MSD clients to secure private rental homes. The Social Development Minister Hon Carmel Sepuloni is very sure of making housing costs as consistent and fair as possible to all.
Every New Zealander should have a decent, safe place to sleep at night. The legacy of homelessness we inherited was serious and it will take some time to completely resolve the issue. Under this government however, real progress is being made.
Michael Wood is Member of Parliament elected from Mount Roskill in Auckland. He is the Chief Government Whip.