Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson was both right and wrong to blast current emergency housing provisions as "inhumane" this week.
She was in the wrong, as her position as Associate Minister of Housing has no "direct delegation" on emergency housing, which falls in the Ministry of Social Development basket.
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet publishes the schedule which provides a summary of the responsibilities that portfolio ministers have delegated to associate ministers.
The area of temporary accommodation services in the Housing portfolio has actually been delegated to Davidson's fellow Associate Housing Minister, Poto Williams.
In some respects then, Davidson had stepped outside of her remit and into Williams' when she told RNZ she was not satisfied emergency housing was "fully safe for everybody" and some people were made to feel "barely human".
However, in Davidson's case, she has been delegated, among other tasks, to: "work to include the voices of individuals, families and whanau with lived experiences of homelessness in the development, design and delivery of changes".
And here, she was right to give voice to what has been too little heard. With successive governments failing to discern this voice, Davidson is well placed to do so. Let's not forget her party has been a minority partner while the situation has entrenched but it has surely reached an intolerable point.
RNZ reports we are spending $1 million a day on transitional and emergency housing.
National's housing spokesperson Nicola Willis said the figures were a disgrace. She is also right.
But more of a disgrace is families in emergency, transitional lodgings. Almost all measures of development in children - health, education, socialisation - will be going backward in such circumstances.
Three years ago, Census data reported at least 41,600 people experiencing severe housing deprivation. This will have only increased.
The Government does not keep a register of the number of people waiting for transitional housing but nearly 10,000 people were given Emergency Housing Special Needs Grants between July and September last year.
Social Welfare Minister Carmel Sepuloni said the Government had increased the number of transitional housing places available "significantly" from 1718 in November 2017 to 3474 by the end of July 2020.
The Government will point to what it is attempting to do about the situation, with the provision of more transitional accommodation arrangements and more budgeting, mental health and welfare support services to help those in existing tenancies keep their rentals and others move out of state homes into private rentals.
At the beginning of last year, the Government announced a $300 million package to move homeless people into better accommodation. Sadly, the Covid-19 pandemic will have rendered that effort so much less effective.
In February this year, Housing Minister Megan Woods announced having delivered 1000 more transitional houses places "as promised" in the plan launched a year previously. In all, 605 out of 1000 were for families with children.
Sure, an estimated 43 per cent were new builds but this is painstaking progress. One thousand transitional homes is about 4 per cent of the need that was estimated in 2018.
These people need permanent, humane, solutions.