Whangarei motelier sticks with Winz clients

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Work and Income is paying Kamo Motel more than $5000 a week to accommodate nine homeless families since late September last year.
PHOTO//JOHN STONE
Work and Income is paying Kamo Motel more than $5000 a week to accommodate nine homeless families since late September last year. PHOTO//JOHN STONE

A motel owner earning more than $5000 a week from Work and Income NZ says he has turned away travellers and Lions supporters seeking accommodation and is now specialising in Winz clients.

Nine families waiting for state housing accommodation are living at Kamo Motel on a week-by-week basis.

Motel owner Ron Rim was philosophical about the situation - the Winz clients were a steady source of income and he was unlikely to ask them to leave to make way for travellers.

In Hawke's Bay, Winz clients living in motels had to move out when motel owners preferred to take bookings for seasonal fruit pickers.

Mr Rim could not foresee any demand emerging that would see similar action here.

Northland motels are likely to face demand around the June 3 British and Irish Lions match, but Mr Rim said he turned down bookings related to the game because he was unsure how long Winz clients would stay.

Also, he said travellers who preferred a quiet time had found his motel unsuitable because of a large number of emergency housing people with children.

"Winz clients take priority. We must look after the emergency housing people. It's not only about money and besides the cost of running a business like this is high. I am paying about $20,000 a month in insurance, power, Sky TV, GST and mortgage and other things," Mr Rim said.

"Outside emergency housing people staying here, the occupancy rate here is not good because guests mostly prefer to stay in or closer to the city."

Mr Rim has been running the motel for nearly 14 years and has provided a verbal undertaking to Winz to provide accommodation for emergency housing clients whenever they were referred to him.

Although money from Winz clients was good, Mr Rim said he sincerely wished they could be quickly moved to state housing.

Winz is unable to say when families are able to secure either state housing or private rentals because their housing needs are assessed on several factors including individual circumstances and specific housing requirements.

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