A Western Bay backpackers hostel manager says homeless Kiwis are arriving almost daily seeking accommodation - despite the fact they stopped taking them in 2 years go.

Wes Archer, manager of Kiwi Corral Country Backpackers in Paengaroa, said he had made it clear to social service agencies, including the local Ministry of Social Development (MSD) office, not to send their clients to his backpackers.

Yet Kiwi Corral was still included on an MSD list of commercial accommodation providers given to people needing short-term emergency accommodation.

The ministry has since apologised after being approached by the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend.

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Mr Archer has managed Kiwi Corral for more than five years and said there were at least five or six families a week seeking accommodation, as well as individuals.

"It's people saying 'We've got nowhere to stay, we're sleeping in a car, we're trying to find accommodation'."

He said they had become the last resort for people.

Mr Archer said after being contacted by social service agencies, and after taking in families and individuals in the past, Kiwi Corral ended up on databases and lists by default.
But they stopped taking people after a raft of issues.

"Fifty per cent of Kiwis who have come and stayed here, they've been evicted within 48 hours for either drug, alcohol, theft or violence," Mr Archer said.

Because of Kiwi Corral's rural location and its distance from town, they did not really deal with the overnight backpacker tourist market, he said, and the New Zealanders approaching them almost daily were ones looking for a place to live.

He said when Kiwi Corral first started taking Kiwis in, in the first 2 years there was about $10,000 owed to them in lost revenue, damage, theft of property and theft of backpackers' property.

"It just becomes a nightmare, an absolute nightmare. It's not worth it."

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Mr Archer said Kiwi Corral once took in a large family desperate for accommodation.

"Three months later, a court case later, a few visits by the police to the family while they were here, I finally got rid of them," Mr Archer said.

Asked what the issue was, he said: "Drugs, violence - violence amongst themselves and violence with other people staying here."

Mike Bryant, the Bay of Plenty regional commissioner for social development, said there would be times when the contracted transitional places are limited or occupied.

"In these cases, we can provide financial assistance (special needs grants) to meet the cost of short-term accommodation. We don't refer people to commercial accommodation providers - the decision where to stay is the client's."

But Mr Bryant said because they know clients with nowhere to turn are under a great deal of stress, individual MSD offices did maintain a list of accommodation providers "which we know are likely to accept our clients".

Kiwi Corral was one of 13 commercial providers on such a list, sent to the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend by MSD. When questioned he said:

"We are sorry for not removing Kiwi Corral."

Motor Inn helps if it can

The Ambassador Motor Inn in Tauranga was also on the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) list given to people needing short-term emergency accommodation.

Ambassador Motor Inn owner Roger Barclay said they had "a constant stream of families wanting quotations".

Mr Barclay said if he could help, he did, but not all quotations were accepted.

"About 40 per cent of quotations that I and my office staff provide for families, who must call in so I can get an idea of what sort of guests they will be, are accepted by Winz or their clients."

Mr Barclay knew he was on the MSD list and said the ministry had approached him about being on it and asked him if he had the capacity.

"We had issues with damage and disturbing other guests at the start of the housing shortage, this time last year," he said. "However, once we started advising families of their rights and responsibilities on arrival, as well as establishing a good working rapport with staff at the various Winz offices, coupled with arranging a security bond for each family, we've had mainly good experiences."

Mike Bryant, the Bay of Plenty regional commissioner for social development, said his staff make every effort to ensure people who approached them with an urgent housing need had a warm, safe place to stay while the ministry worked to identify long-term housing options.

"There are currently 119 transitional housing places available in the Bay of Plenty and we look to refer clients to those places in the first instance."

FACT BOX
•Associate Minister for Social Housing Alfred Ngaro announced last week that Tauranga had 41 transitional housing places available for local families with a further 19 due to open by December.
•Tauranga City Council had granted consent for a transitional housing development in Opal Drive, Papamoa which would see approximately 80 local families housed every year.
•Mr Ngaro said that earlier this year the Government announced plans to bring 68 transitional housing places to Tauranga and Papamoa and that they were on track to deliver that by the end of the year.