May 9, 2016
Emergency Housing Measures Welcomed
Community housing groups welcome the Government’s announcement today of new funding into emergency housing, ahead of budget announcements.
“Government are recognising the extent of housing need in communities all over New Zealand where emergency housing providers are stressed trying to respond to immediate housing needs,” says Scott Figenshow, Director of Community Housing Aotearoa (CHA) the national group representing community housing providers through-out New Zealand.
“Some of our members have to deal with two to three walk-ins for housing every working day when their homes are already full. This funding will go a long way to address emergency housing need and it’s good to see existing providers working at the coal face will get additional support to ensure everyone has a safe place to sleep,” says David Zussman, CHA Senior Project Manager.
Besides funding for 800 emergency housing places over the country, at any one time, there will be a new, non-recoverable emergency housing Special Needs Grant (SNG) to support individuals and families for up to seven days, if there is no emergency home available. This is critically important as families are otherwise being turned away when emergency housing providers are already full.
“The new special needs grant is a great addition as it enables emergency housing responses in areas where there’s a shortage of options. And it’s great to see the new funding and special needs grants will be available over the whole country. While Auckland have a real emergency housing shortage, we’re seeing this trend happening all over the country – from Kaitaia to Invercargill, and not just in the big cities,” Scott Figenshow says.
“But this is just one part of the range of housing needed. We need to see the scale increase in long-term housing options where people’s housing needs are placed first, where they can move from emergency housing into long-term housing that’s warm, safe and dry – a housing first approach,” Scott Figenshow says.
“Government are not expecting to have the special needs grant or emergency housing places available before September – so it will be a very cold winter for some people. We believe that existing providers should be commissioned from 1 July to increase their capacity using a portion of the funds announced, rather than waiting for months to respond to a Request for Proposal process.”
Community Housing Aotearoa have been working in Auckland to help providers coordinate their response and grow of existing services. “Our hope is that further announcements in the Budget will address the need for improved co-ordination for and provide capital to deliver more long term housing. This highlights the need for clarity in policy and funding for this area – we’ve all been waiting a long time for this,” David Zussman said today.
A new framework that enables community housing providers to house individuals and families as quickly as possible is needed. That means increasing the supply of warm, safe, dry, and affordable homes are available, thereby ensuring that emergency housing remains short-term. CHA says there are examples of families staying up to nine months in emergency housing. “This is not the best use of resources and the lack of affordable homes has created a bottle neck in the system.”
“To make sure this new funding is really effective we need to see better co-ordination between local housing responses and Government initiatives,” says David Zussman.