Twenty-two people have taken up a Government offer to leave Auckland and settle in the regions with the help a $5000 grant.

The successful applicants for the relocation grant included one homeless person and four people who had been living in emergency shelters.

The initiative was introduced by Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett a month ago, and covers the costs of moving, bond, or advance rental fees.

So far, 12 people have received grants worth a total of $54,508. The group was supporting a total of 32 people.


Another 10 applicants have been approved for the grant, but have not yet moved.
The Government has allocated enough money to resettle up to 150 families.

The relocation grant allows people on the waiting list for social housing in Auckland to move to regions where housing is readily available.

Of those who had left Auckland, half had moved into private rental properties and the other half had moved into social housing.

Bennett said she was pleased that people were taking up the offer of help.

One of the successful applicants had been living in their car in Auckland, she said
After discussions with Housing New Zealand, the woman had now moved into a two-bedroom house in Invercargill, where she had family support.

People had also left Auckland for Rotorua, Tokoroa, and Tawa.

Bennett announced plans for the grant in January, saying it could be used to free up social housing in Auckland.

As National came under pressure to address homeless issues in May, she confirmed that the grant would also be available to homeless people.

That prompted accusations of rushed policy-making by the Labour Party.

Any successful applicants who move back to Auckland within in a year may be required to pay the grant back.

Labour leader Andrew Little said the number of applicants for the grant showed the policy was an "utter failure".

He said the minister had not recognised how difficult it was for a family to leave a city where their relatives, friends, jobs and schools were.

Little questioned whether it would have been more cost-effective to subsidise the applicants' rent in Auckland.