Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

Housing NZ buys Takanini motel for homeless

The Cimarron Motel in Takanini which has been bought by Housing NZ.
The Cimarron Motel in Takanini which has been bought by Housing NZ.

Housing New Zealand has bought a South Auckland motel to help meet the area's housing shortage - but ironically the existing residents will have to move out to make room for the homeless.

A spokesman said the agency bought the 10-unit Cimarron Motel in Waterview Rd, Takanini, as "part of our work to make more housing available in Auckland for those who require it urgently".

But the motel was already being used for long-stay accommodation, and former resident Roland Stehlin said he was worried about what would happen to the remaining residents.

"There's an elderly couple there who have been there 11 years, they have nowhere to go," he said.

"We've got a family that's in the house [formerly the manager's house]. Their kids are all going to the school there. The last I heard was apparently they are going out to Pukekohe, now they have to find some way of getting their kids into school there."

Previous owner Kamal Matta, who bought the property for $1.6 million in April last year, said most of the previous residents had already moved out.

"Four families are there. The others have all left," he said.

"There is no hard and fast rule about when they are going. They have several months. There's no pressure on anyone to find a new place."

South Auckland has the country's highest rates of overcrowding, with 99,030 people living in officially overcrowded conditions in the 2013 Census, but the Government has reduced the numbers on the social housing waiting list in the Manukau and Manurewa-Papakura wards from 584 in June 2014 to 254 in June this year.

Housing NZ said it would "work with the Ministry of Social Development to ensure that if there are people living at the motel, they are aware of the assistance available from Work and Income".

"This help could include assistance like bond and rent in advance for a private rental or checking their eligibility for social housing."

The agency said it had not bought any other motels in Auckland but "cannot rule out similar purchases as one of many options to provide more housing in the region".

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says the motel will be used initially to provide emergency housing for people in critical need.

"I flagged earlier this year that the use of motels was a solution I was looking into and I am pleased that this motel purchase will help up to 11 households at any one time. As my work plan continues, more new emergency places will become available."

- NZ Herald

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