Emergency housing trust says $300m a short-term fix

By Alexandra Newlove

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Adrian Whale, of Tai Tokerau Emergency Housing Trust, says pouring more money into services like his is a short-term solution.
Adrian Whale, of Tai Tokerau Emergency Housing Trust, says pouring more money into services like his is a short-term solution.

A Northland emergency housing provider says extra government funding is a short-term fix for a much bigger problem.

The Government announced this week it would pour $303 million into emergency housing nationwide over the next four years, providing an extra 1400 places, 600 of them outside Auckland.

At least some of these places would be in Northland, identified as an area of "high demand", by the Ministry for Social Development (MSD).

The announcement came as Whangarei's flagship provider, Tai Tokerau Emergency Housing Trust (TTEHT), prepared to open its fourth property, a nine-unit facility in Kamo previously used by another trust which wound up in early 2015.

"Having these extra units will be a positive boost for our organisation as we are currently facing unprecedented demand for our services," trust chairman Adrian Whale said.

"Effectively it will double our capacity to provide struggling families with a safe place to stay and receive the support they require to move into more permanent housing."

Mr Whale said this was not a "new" facility.

"[This property] is not adding to the stock needed to meet demand in Whangarei, but bringing supply levels back to what was available 18 months ago."

Mr Whale said the trust had been invited to apply for some of the new funding.

"But, until we (as a region) can get houses built that people can actually settle in, it doesn't fix things in the long term."

Mr Whale said the trust would likely apply for the funding to operate its Kamo facility, and would also look at providing more options for larger families, because had trouble catering for families of more than five.

"We are funding [Kamo Rd] out of our reserves. We anticipate we will qualify ... and this will enable us to cover the anticipated $24,000 shortfall."

TTEHT marked its 10-year anniversary in October, when Mr Whale told the Advocate that turning away people with nowhere else to go had become a daily reality, with 130 families on the trust's waiting list

He said in the eight years he had been with the trust, the length of stay had increased from six to eight weeks to up to six months, with Housing New Zealand homes more difficult to come by and private rentals out of reach for many.

Kay Read, from MSD's social housing division, said the ministry was working with providers to understand regional demand, in respect of the $303m.

"We recognise that Northland is an area of high housing demand, including for emergency housing," she said.

MSD contracted for 88 emergency housing places in Northland, across six organisations including TTEHT, Waitomo Papakainga Development Society (Kaitaia), He Korowai Trust (Kaitaia), Te Runanga o Whaingaroa (Kaeo), Women's Refuge (Northland wide) and Ngati Hine Health Trust (mid-north).

"We'll release more information on contracted emergency housing places in these regions as we agree contracts with providers," Ms Read said.

- Northern Advocate

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