Lack of state housing is leaving residents homeless

By Alice Lock

9 comments
Housing disgrace: Napier City Councillor, Maxine Boag, is concerned about the lack of state housing, which leaves many permanent motel residents without a home during the holiday season.
Housing disgrace: Napier City Councillor, Maxine Boag, is concerned about the lack of state housing, which leaves many permanent motel residents without a home during the holiday season.

More than 20 families housed in Napier Motels will be left without a roof over their heads this labour weekend as holidaymakers flood in.

Napier City Councillor, Maxine Boag, said the lack of state housing is becoming desperate for these vulnerable families who have to resort to motel units for a place to stay.

"The moteliers have been compassionate enough to house them until Housing New Zealand finds them homes, but they have businesses to run and have to look after their core clients."

Ms Boag said it was the job of Housing New Zealand and their bosses, and the government to provide adequate social housing for the most vulnerable members of the community.

"Where do they think these families should go to when they are pushed out of the motels? Sleep on the beach? In a car?"

Ministry of Social Development Associate deputy chief, Kay Read, said they were aware that motel providers who were housing their clients had been pre-booked over Labour weekend but were working closely with those clients affected.

"We have been speaking with the motels and they indicated that the clients had family or friends to stay with and the motel had booked them back in on Tuesday," Ms Kay said.

Tu Tangata Maraenui spokesperson and social housing advocate, Minnie Ratima, said that there were more than 20 empty houses in and around Maraenui.

She said the house her aunty lived in before she passed away had been empty for months, as it was claimed to be P- contaminated by Housing New Zealand.

"There is no way it was contaminated, we were not even allowed to smoke cigarettes in there. It is a perfectly liveable house but they will just let it wash away," Ms Ratima said.

Housing New Zealand spokesperson, said Housing New Zealand owned 1/3 of the houses in Maraenui but a number of them were vacant for methamphetamine.

"We have a zero tolerance approach to drug use and the abuse in our homes."

Ms Boag said it was a disgrace that the government demolished 90 units in Maraenui and now had people with the highest needs in temporary housing.

Housing New Zealand spokesperson said they were continually housing new families and in the last 12 months 170 were housed.

"We have a strong commitment to Maraenui and are one of three partners to a Memorandum of Understanding with Napier City Council and Te Roopu a Iwi Trust.

"We want to make the area vibrant and health and part of this is looking at how we can increase the different types of housing so there is a better mix, including affordable home options."

Moteliers in Napier also said it was the worst they had seen and wondered what these people would do over the summer months when tourists booked out the motels.

Ace Motel manager, Frank Craig, said there were empty sections, which could easily fit two state houses on each.

"Housing New Zealand and Work and Income just need to work together to find a solution," Mr Craig said.

New Napier City Councillor, Apiata Tapine, said they had been working with Ministry of Social Development and the local iwi to find a solution.

"It has been taken to a new level and we are just working with MSD to get a better handle of numbers and the size of the problem."

He said the local Marae's are keen to help but they are like hotels and have bookings to honour.

"Once MSD get back to us we will have a better understanding of what we can do and form a solution. I think everyone has understood the urgency."

Ms Boag said this was an ongoing issue with summer just around the corner.

"They will have nowhere to go over the summer months when holidaymakers return."

Ms Read, said they were working alongside community agencies and accommodation providers to address this issue, as Hawke's Bay is a popular destination with accommodation traditionally tight over the summer period.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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