There was a sad twist in the otherwise happy story of 3-year-old Axle who survived a night in the Gisborne bush alone.
Axle and his family - it transpired - were homeless earlier this year, living in a tent.
They had been in an emergency housing motel, but it was a "bad situation with drugs and alcohol and people fighting and smashing things all the time," and Axle's mum says she didn't want her "kid around that". A tent was preferable.
That is sobering. That is what government money is paying for, tolerating and exposing people to.
That is also spilling out of the motels and hotels on to the streets of Rotorua, central Wellington and Napier. Those cities are drawing the headlines but they are not the only ones.
The complaints are the same: harassment, alcohol and drug abuse, gang intimidation, violence.
In Rotorua, Reg Hennessy runs Hennessy's Irish Bar. He reckons patrons eating outside have had food snatched off their plates by emergency accommodation residents. Truckies say they won't stop overnight in the city to protect their vehicles from damage. In Wellington, women complain it's unsafe to walk in the central city at night. Gang numbers have almost doubled in five years. Assaults are making headlines.
The problem appears to be two-fold. The first is the sheer concentration of people in emergency housing in small areas. It's estimated 45 of Rotorua's motels are housing the homeless. That is too many for one town. Not all the residents of these motels are from Rotorua. They're coming in from around the country and across the Tasman. Rotorua is housing more than its fair share. That is a failure of government policy.
The same is happening in Wellington. Many of the people living in the CBD around Manners Street most likely did not call central Wellington home before. There are stories, again, of people moving in from Australia and from around the country. Again, Wellington is caring for more than its fair share of homeless.
The second problem is a suspected no eviction policy. It doesn't matter how badly the residents of these motels and hotels behave, unless the police remove the person, they stay. Housing Minister Megan Woods won't confirm it, but nor will she deny it. She simply says this is "the housing of last resort… if you evict them where will they go" and police will deal with "behaviour that is criminal".
That is not fair on the long-term locals or on the other residents of these motels. They are right to be angry at having this behaviour imposed on them. Essentially, when asked to choose between a poorly-behaving resident and those affected by that behaviour, the government is choosing to defend the aggressor.
This is unacceptable, both for the locals driven out of their town centres and for the families forced to share these motels.
This is also threatening to become a political problem. The Beehive's likely realised that, which could explain the fix rolled out for Rotorua this week which includes wrap-around-services and the separation of families from 'other groups' within accommodation. It's welcome but it's not enough. It won't placate locals. As long as poor behaviour is tolerated and concentrated in a small area in town, it'll keep spilling out into the path of voters.
It's notable that it is only a fix for Rotorua. Including Wellington would require admitting there is a problem. Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson seems intent on pretending there's no safety issue.
Robertson's held that line for two months but he won't be able to keep that up for long. A packed public meeting this week suggests the temperature is rising on this.
Long term, the solution is to move people out of these motels. For that, though, you need proper housing. That needs to be built and building is neither quick nor a strength of Labour's.
Until then, the government has two choices: get in there and run these places properly, or drive up political resentment.