Bethlehem can’t rival Auckland motel’s $2300 rate for homeless.

There's no room at the inn.

Well, there is room, but it's $2300 a week, and afterwards you'll owe it to social housing.

If only the motel industry in Bethlehem had thought up this money-go-round. Manger occupancies woulda gone through the roof. In Dubai, there's hotel rooms with giant aquariums. Imagine what a Bethlehem motel could charge for a room with its own petting zoo. Such rustic charm!

But this rent, to shelter a homeless family, was not a story from the Bible. It's a story from South Auckland, this week.


And before you think, $2300 for a week: FUH-LASH! Not so much.

This motel is not the place people save up to splash out on for their honeymoon because that cruise liner doesn't have enough shower-heads in the en suite.

Nor does it have the gold-plating of Trump's elevator. This is not Lifestyles of the Rich and Homeless.

It's basic. Not so much as a washing machine. And $2300 isn't the rack rate.

This is the special, Hallelujah, praise-the-Powerball, surge-price, when that homeless family knocks on the door at the Ministry, and one of the staff is surprised - yet again - that there's no more social housing, and desperately opens up search tabs for and AirBnb.

Without wishing to minimise the achievement of becoming Deputy Prime Minister, surely any recently laid-off travel agent could do a better job running social housing. Look up the nightly rate charged by a hotel. Then, ring the Reserve Bank and ask for the mortgage rate. Then, take out your phone, find the calculator app, run some numbers. Hey, you know what, instead of renting, let's build some state houses.

The reply will come: but we ARE building state houses!

No. Penitentiaries don't count.


But with the kind of money we don't hesitate to spend on prisons, we could surely tack on a few medium-to-low-security motel units, and boom, all our social ills, neatly fenced behind the same barbed wire. Think of the savings on concrete blocks!

And it could be an election slogan. "Tough on crime, soft on furnishings." Gem-encrusted ankle bracelets, which even encourage you to walk 10,000 steps a day!

Get enough paddock, and you could have a maximum-security holiday resort. For the homeless, a last resort, but a resort nevertheless. So they're just wandering the mean streets, frustrated, angry, with not so much as a roof over their heads? You know, that's a lot like golf.

Surely it's loan-sharking when a homeless family comes to the Government, and the Government says, sure, we can help, but it'll cost you $2300 a week.

Tony Soprano is friendly when you meet him, but eventually he'll want something back. (And remember, two points a week don't sound much, but you miss a week, and the juice gets added to the nut.)

Did we all miss a trick in the housing game by not going long on South Auckland motels?

Certainly it seems the Government missed a trick. If a basic room can be chalked up in the ledger as $2300 a week, why hasn't the Super Fund bought a chain of motels? That's better than a coal mine.

Nobody's ever gonna buy coal again - even as a stocking-stuffer - but homeless people: now THAT'S a growth sector. Wouldn't this be Budget Heaven? I love the Budget.

"Look at how well we're doing - on paper."

Meanwhile, for the first time since Trump's election, I feel cause for optimism.

Who woulda thought the American election could have a December surprise?

Now it's widely reported that Russians hacked the Republicans as well as the Democrats - but chose not to release any Republican emails - it's clear that Putin influenced the election, and that the FBI helped, via FBI director Comey's last-minute, innuendo-laden letter. The only thing missing is Comey's Order of Friendship medal from Putin.

Why have no Republican emails have been leaked? Maybe they're just totally decent people who only email each other about the flag, ammo calibre and Jesus, without so much as a risotto recipe to cast a shadow.

A few ifs. If Obama declassifies the intel - showing cyber-attacks happened to both sides, but leaks only against one - and the public gets to see for themselves, then the Electoral College could well vote their conscience.

That's a few ifs, but - if it leads to Trump being choppered to Guantanamo to help the CIA with inquiries, well - that's hope.