Homeless families and volunteers Te Puea Marae stunned by Paula Bennett's quick visit

Homeless families and volunteers at Te Puea Marae were stunned by a lightning visit by Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett this morning.

Mrs Bennett met a homeless mother, but barely had time to say hello to volunteers in a 20-minute visit that started at 8.30am.

"She was in a hurry!" one volunteer commented.

But marae chairman Hurimoana Dennis said the minister had delivered the extra help she pledged for the marae when she met Mr Dennis at a cafe last Friday.

"Everything she said she was going to do has actually happened," he said.

"Her staff have already arrived and we have a bigger lot coming in tomorrow."

The marae has taken in 55 families and individuals since it opened its doors to the homeless last month.

Thirty people, including five families and two individuals, stayed at the marae last night and a father with five children came in this morning.

The marae has helped 27 families and individuals to move to social housing, places in families' homes and motels.

The Manukau Urban Maori Authority has found jobs for several adults, and Whanau Ora services are being offered to all the families.

Mrs Bennett said she wanted to check that the support she had offered was coming through.

"We have provided them with direct assistance for the housing assessments, with a relatively senior person here every day," she said.

She wanted to make sure homeless people were linked to other public services such as education, social work and counselling.

"In some respects people feel more comfortable here, Maori to Maori," she said.

She said the Government was "pulling all levers" to solve the homeless crisis, including providing 120 extra places for emergency housing in Auckland this year and a further 360 beds are now out for tender.

The Budget also provided funding for a further 750 social housing units in Auckland through another tender process.

She said other options were also being examined.

- NZ Herald

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