Emergency housing help skips Tauranga for Whakatane

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Cabinet minister Paula Bennett talks to media after her visit to Te Puea Marae, Mangere Bridge, to view the marae accommodation for the homeless. Photo/File
Cabinet minister Paula Bennett talks to media after her visit to Te Puea Marae, Mangere Bridge, to view the marae accommodation for the homeless. Photo/File

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett has announced today that the first round of funding for emergency housing beds in the Bay of Plenty will be going to Whakatane, not Tauranga.

The Ministry of Social Development announced it would provide $41.1 million over the next four years in Budget 2016 for emergency housing and grants, and expected that would pay for about 3000 emergency housing places across the country per year. The proposal was for about 60 places in larger centres such as the Bay of Plenty, 350 to 360 in Auckland, about 100 in Canterbury and about 20 for each of the smaller centres.

Today, Mrs Bennett announced the first places funded in the Bay of Plenty would be in Whakatane.

"I am pleased to announce that 14 existing providers will receive combined funding of $1.9 million for 337 places," Mrs Bennett said.

Auckland providers will get funding for 153 existing places, Christchurch 101 Wellington 42 and Hamilton 17. The rest are split between Kaitaia, Whangarei and Whakatane.

"This funding will make a significant difference for providers, giving them the certainty of funding they need to keep making a difference in the lives of some of New Zealand's most vulnerable people."

A second tranche of applications for existing and new providers is still underway and is expected to be finalised by mid-August.

Around 3000 emergency housing places per year, 800 at any one time, will be funded across the country through the Budget 2016 allocation.

A special needs grant for emergency housing which does not have to be paid back was also announced in this year's Budget.

"This is the first time any government has committed ongoing, dedicated funding for emergency housing, because we recognise that not everyone has access to a safe and stable home," Mrs Bennett said.

"During our review of emergency housing last year, it became apparent that vulnerable people were getting into debt to pay for accommodation when they needed it most. This was not right and we have fixed it."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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