An emergency accommodation provider in Whakatane will receive more than $15,000 each year to fund five emergency places, Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett has announced.

The first contracts to fund emergency housing providers for existing places have been finalised under a fast-tracked process that will give them certainty of funding and allow them to focus on the task of housing some of Whakatane's most vulnerable people.

"I am delighted that we have been able to give a Whakatane emergency housing provider funding of about $15,400 at a time when they are under increased pressure during the winter months and in the face of a difficult housing market," Mrs Bennett said.

"I announced $41.1 million for emergency accommodation in the Budget and I am pleased that we have been able to bring forward the start date for this funding and for the new, non-recoverable special needs grant. Both of these initiatives will significantly help people who find themselves in situations where they need accommodation urgently."

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Existing providers can continue to apply for fast-tracked funding until mid-July. They and new providers can also apply for the second tranche of funding until then. The second round is expected to be finalised by mid-August.

Also today a special needs grant for emergency housing which does not have to be paid back was announced as part of a $41.1 million boost for emergency accommodation in this year's Budget.

"This is the first time any government has committed ongoing, dedicated funding for emergency housing, because we recognise that not everyone has access to a safe and stable home," Mrs Bennett said.

"During our review of emergency housing last year, it became apparent that vulnerable people were getting into debt to pay for accommodation when they needed it most. This was not right and we have fixed it."

The new special needs grant will be available to people who need support with emergency housing costs and are unable to secure a place with an emergency housing provider.

"The grant is for up to seven days' accommodation. However, the time can be extended in exceptional circumstances. This is similar criteria as the previous, recoverable, grant."

More information on the special needs grant for emergency housing can be found here: http://housing.msd.govt.nz/forms/factsheets/urgently-need-accommodation.html.