Bay social housing providers have welcomed extra government money to tackle homelessness over winter but demand still remains high.

Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford said the Government exceeded its target to have 1500 more places for homeless people this winter.

However, record numbers of people had come forward seeking help, Twyford said.

"It's going to take a concerted effort over many years to end homelessness... the homeless crisis isn't going to be fixed overnight," he said.


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Twyford said the Ministry of Social Development, with community housing providers, had "pulled out" all the stops this winter.

Twyford said planning had already started for the homeless response in winter 2019.

Plans were well advanced to build even more transitional houses and 6400 new public houses across the country as part of a $4 billion investment over the next four years, he said.

A Ministry of Housing and Urban Development spokeswoman said an extra 167 places were delivered in the Bay of Plenty.

"This is made up of 43 public housing tenancies,114 transitional housing places, and 10 Housing First households placed in permanent housing," the spokeswoman said.

"A further 58 households have been engaged in the Housing First service in Tauranga."

The Bay of Plenty would also gain 275 more public housing places by June 2022.


"We're working hard with both Housing New Zealand and community housing provider to exceed this goal,'' the ministry's spokeswoman said.

Tommy Wilson, of Te Tuinga Whanau Social Services Trust, said things were quite different compared with the same time last year.

"We used to have to turn lots of people away but today were have 59 families in 30 homes across Tauranga, a few in motels, but most are being accommodated in houses.

The Housing First programme was launched in Rotorua by Minister of Maori Development Nanaia Mahuta this month, with the aim of ''making homelessness a thing of the past''.

Its success will depend on the combined expertise of LinkPeople, Lifewise and partnering with Te Taumata o Ngati Whakaue Trust.

LinkPeople chief executive Christine Hall said the organisation was "really excited" to be involved in this partnership.

"We started delivering a service in Rotorua in July last year and in that time we housed more than 200 families, of that 80 per cent were into private housing," she said.

Tauranga Community Housing Trust general manager Jacqui Ferrel said there were 117 tenants in 39 transitional houses, nine of which were private rentals.

"While there are still challenges and frustrations placing some of these people into more sustainable housing, there have been some good successes during this winter."

Ferrel said that included a few more tenants having secured public housing through Ministry of Social Development's housing register, and it appeared there were also more public housing becoming available.

Tauranga Moana Nightshelter manager Annamarie Angus said it was still difficult to place some of their clients into private or social housing because of their complex needs.

Last year the shelter helped 53 homeless men transition into permanent housing but the outlook was "better" than a year ago, and they aimed to double that number this year.

The ministry funding would help the Tauranga Moana Nightshelter Trust provide transitional housing services for up to 20 men at a time over the next three years.

Accessible Properties chief executive Greg Orchard said the city had significantly less public housing available than the national average, with at least 1700 more homes needed just to reach that average.

"It has one of the highest public housing waitlists per capita in New Zealand with 231 people on it as at June 2018 – a growth of 143 per cent since 2015," he said.

Orchard said there was a range of options for the Government to take that would allow community housing providers to do more to help end homelessness.

One option was to reintroduce Government grants for community housing providers to source capital to build more public housing, he said.

By the numbers:

The government is spending $4bn to build 6400 new public houses nationwide by 2022 next four years; that includes 275 more places in the Bay of Plenty region by 2022; This winter in the region an extra 167 places were delivered in the region, including 114 transitional places, and 10 Housing First households placed in permanent housing.
Source: Ministry of Social Development