Emergency housing has changed the look of New Zealand communities over the past five years.
What were once strips of motor lodges for smart businesspeople or holidaying families on the fringes between residential and commercial parts of towns, have evolved into semi-permanent residences for government-underwritten social housing.
As senior journalist Isaac Davison reported this week, emergency housing is now big business, with some motel and motor lodge-owners pivoting their enterprises to specialise in housing the most vulnerable people in society.
One motel alone has claimed $16 million in grants for emergency accommodation, data obtained by the Herald shows.
These budget and mid-range motels and hotels have also become attractive products for investors. Some have traded hands in the last two years on the basis of a steady income from Ministry of Social Development (MSD) tenants.
This was a change foisted on communities "on the hoof" after borders slammed shut to tourism and business to stave off the Covid-19 pandemic. At the same time the motel rooms became vacant, those in temporary housing or on waiting lists overflowed out of garages and vehicles. The solution was so obvious that it barely entered discussions.
The outcome is a living iteration of how difficult it has become to increase affordable and social housing, and how significant the demand is. Labour, when in Opposition, once said that motels were a poor option but it is now almost entirely dependent on them.
Let's not forget that emergency housing numbers are basically homeless numbers - the tenants would be considered homeless under the official definition. These tenants have effectively become the new "homeless in cars and garages" which was so damaging to National in the later years of its government.
This will take a long time to resolve. On top of the pre-existing issues (rising rents, values) New Zealand now suffers building supply hitches and a construction sector at capacity. We can't really build new houses any faster.
MSD's group general manager of housing Karen Hocking this week pointed out that emergency accommodation "isn't our first option - it's a last resort".
Makeshift policies like this are seldom successful, even though this "last resort" has rapidly become popular and expensive. Since 2016, 2500 motels have housed MSD tenants at a cost of $881m.
Bernie Smith, chief executive of the Monte Cecilia Housing Trust, is scathing of the amount of money going into motels that he believes are unsuited as long-term housing for families.
"If they weren't being used for emergency housing, a number of these motels were due for a bulldozer. This money has just rescued them... some of these motels are pretty questionable."
And where to for all these families as tourism and business returns? It seems many will be staying longer at the type of motels that aren't, for whatever reason, welcoming international visitors.
The Eagles sang on the 1977 song "The Last Resort": "You call someplace paradise, kiss it goodbye." It appears it is goodbye to happy holidaymakers for many of these motor-lodges, and hello to a new long-term reality.