A community collective from a wide range of existing social service organisations has combined to facilitate and activate positive solutions to the deepening housing crisis in Hawke's Bay.

Associate Minister for Social Housing Alfred Ngaro reconfirms that his Government is crowing about their plan to add 195 transitional social housing places in HB over the next three years but makes no mention whatsoever about where people will go after that.

The intended provision of 'wrap-around' supports to those temporary tenants is also a further insult that assumes everyone in urgent need of housing must also need that degree of social support. The fact is most people's current issues would largely be resolved simply by securing a permanent address.

The Associate Minister's ''red herring" attempt to point the finger at the Council as being the proposer of the site for those 10 x 1-bedroom transitional units is a deflection from looking at Government's very deliberate culling of HNZC's housing stock and its stubborn refusal to accept the wide-ranging seriousness of those consequences.


The fact is, Council members do not have any influence on what will be developed on any land it does not own, only land owners do. And therein lies the other glaring fact that the Associate Minister has avoided altogether - that Housing NZ Corp is actually the largest "land banker" in New Zealand and yet his Government has no plans to tell HNZC to build any permanent new housing in Napier or anywhere else.

While those one-bedroom temporary cabins are welcome, it doesn't begin to satisfy the huge demand for permanent, affordable housing. It certainly does nothing for larger families or pensioners needing permanent rental accommodation, or anyone already on the bulging social housing waiting list or the many who can't even get on to that waiting list.

Working families of all sizes are also just as likely to be in these dire predicaments now and a significant number of people are starting to understand that they're only ever one catastrophic event away from losing their home, ie, ill health/death, reduction/loss of paid work, sale of the property they rent etc.

There are multiple disruptive effects when living in temporary housing or without any housing at all. One such immediate impact is on children's education and their ability to stay in their schools.

This was confirmed recently by Daniel Murfitt, Principal of William Colenso College and the Lead Principal for the Matariki Community of Learning, who said he is aware "There's a number of local families who are living in motels due to the housing crisis in Napier.

He said "the clear need in our local community is for affordable, secure, warm family homes to support these children and their families. The building of 10 one bedroom emergency houses is only reinforcing the status quo - short term housing in motel type units, which gives no sense of community, security or belonging which children living in motels have very little of.

It is very difficult for these families to prioritise education when their basic needs are not being met. We need permanent family homes not one bedroom motel type units."
The severe shortage of permanent social housing has overloaded the private rental market and that in turn has seen rents skyrocket due to the shortage of available rental housing. Coupled with that is the inability of most people, particularly young families, to buy their own home, thus freeing up the houses they currently rent.

It is common for upwards of 50 potential renters to turn up at viewings, regardless of the condition of the property, and there are episodes at viewings where people are literally being held to ransom and having to bid-up their 'offer' of rental payments. This too has contributed to the skyrocketing of rents as well as pitting people against each other based solely on their ability to pay.

The current millions paid to motels and camping grounds via emergency housing grants is a seriously misguided spend on the taxpayers' purse but to then find out that MSD have now purchased entire motel businesses for this purpose is absolutely repugnant.

It clearly indicates the Government expects this situation to continue yet it still does nothing about where people will go when their 12-week occupancy of all these temporary placements expires. Meanwhile, more and more children and adults suffer diminishing health and social outcomes, including people who are in employment as well as those who aren't.

Chat is organising a public rally to be held at the Soundshell at 2pm on Sunday, August 6. The rally is to raise awareness of the extent and effects of this long-running and worsening housing crisis and to demand that all political parties commit to a fast-tracked implementation of the recommendations made in last year's Final Report of the Cross-Party Inquiry on Homelessness.

(On Facebook at #CommunityHousingActionTeam)

Michelle Pyke, a former Napier City councillor, is the spokesperson for the Community Housing Action Team (Chat)
Views expressed here are the writer's personal opinion, and not the newspaper's. Email editor@hbtoday.co.nz.