“Putting families into motels is a temporary fix for desperate situations, rather than a sustainable solution to problems of poverty and homelessness,” says Scott Figenshow, Chief Executive of Community Housing Aotearoa.
He was commenting on media coverage of the number of homeless people living in motel rooms and the length of time they are staying there – the New Zealand Herald reports there are 3000 households in motels, with many staying up to a year.
“No one would look at these figures and think this is what we need to be doing long-term. But while it’s less than ideal, for families with nowhere to go because of a housing crisis decades in the making, it can act as a necessary stopgap measure until something more permanent can be found.
“Providing affordable housing for all New Zealanders is what we need to be working towards. That means working to improve the situation right across the housing continuum – providing emergency shelter for those who need it, through to long-term rentals that households can actually afford, and also ensuring there are a variety of pathways into home ownership.”
Mr Figenshow welcomed the Government’s progressive home ownership announcement as a step to-ward addressing affordability.
“That announcement tackles one very specific part of the housing continuum but it will have flow-on benefits for other parts. For instance, each newly built home has the potential to free up other housing.
“And if we can also significantly increase the number of genuinely affordable rental homes, that will make a real difference for many families. It will make it less likely that a family will end up sleeping in their car or camping out in someone’s uninsulated garage.
“Whether someone is renting or owning, we all need the same thing – a place that feels like home, and which isn’t going to cost so much that we can’t afford to pay the power bill or buy some gro-ceries.”
Mr Figenshow noted the Government’s own papers have identified the range of households under pressure (https://www.hud.govt.nz/residential-housing/changes-to-the-government-build-programme/related-documents/).
He welcomed the Government’s intention to work in partnership with community housing providers, who wanted to increase the supply of high quality, safe and affording housing, including in the provision of more public housing, build-to-rent and affordable rentals, and progressive home ownership.
“We’re looking for coordinated action on this to draw together the expertise and insights from people already providing community housing so that together we can make a real difference. We’re in this for the long haul.”
Everyone deserves a safe, warm, dry home of their own – a link to the video ‘We Believe’, pro-duced by the Auckland Community Housing Providers Network with support from Community Housing Aotearoa: https://www.achpn.net.nz/.