A pop-up emergency housing village has been unveiled in Papamoa today in a radical step to help homeless families in dire need.
The booming Bay of Plenty is targeted for "big plans" in social housing, Associate Social Housing Minister Alfred Ngaro told the Bay of Plenty Times.
A 6500sq m vacant site at Papamoa's Opal Dr is first off the block and earmarked for a new 19-unit housing development to open in August.
About 100 neighbouring residents were informed in a mail-drop today.
Tauranga City Council owns the Opal Dr site and a consent application would now be lodged.
Mr Ngaro said the development would have 19 "new warm, dry and modern two and three-bedroom houses''.
Occupants living at the new Papamoa site would be "people who have been assessed for high need for emergency housing," said Mr Ngaro.
Families would stay in the homes for an average of 12 weeks or longer if required, while they are helped to secure more permanent housing.
Residents would continue to receive support for a further 12 weeks once they moved into more permanent accommodation such as social housing.
It was a Housing New Zealand and Ministry of Social Development initiative following a similar, successful village in Luke St, Otahuhu, Auckland. Prime Minister Bill English opened that 44-unit block in February.
The 19 houses for Papamoa had been built in an Auckland factory and could be placed on flat land without lengthy earthworks.
"Once the land is needed again, we'd be able to easily relocate them to other sites,"
Mr Ngaro said.
The houses were built to modern building and design standards, and landscaped to include play areas and plenty of green space, he said.
The new village was not permanent social housing, but would be emergency or transitional housing for families in dire need.
The proposed 19-unit village is part of 68 transitional houses planned for Tauranga and Papamoa by the year's end - a plan Mr Ngaro unveiled in Tauranga earlier this month in response to "the stories of hardship" about homeless families.
A Bay of Plenty Times last year launched a campaign called Our Hidden Homeless to highlight the dark side of Tauranga's booming growth, with an increasing number of families struggling to find accommodation with some forced to live in motels, garages, tents and even in cars in local parks.
While the transitional - or emergency housing - provides a short-term solution, Mr Ngaro said the Government would also provide 290 new properties in the Bay of Plenty for longer-term social housing.
"The council has earmarked the site for use as affordable housing in the longer term, but they have agreed to make part of it temporarily available for new homes for people in need.
"That creates an opportunity for us. We've got big plans for social housing in the area and using this site for transitional housing will let us help more people now as those places come on stream. Providing consent goes ahead, it's expected the first homes would be onsite in late August.''
The homes would be managed by an on-site provider which would look after the tenancies and provide support to the people living there.
The residents would receive support tailored to their needs to ultimately help them find permanent housing -- for example budgeting advice, health services, life skills help, cooking, parenting and help in linking to other social agencies.
"This isn't just about a roof. We know that many of our families are facing other challenges which is why they'd receive on-site tailored support when living there and another three months of support once they move on to help manage that transition," Mr Ngaro said.
The housing would be managed by a local transitional housing provider. There are 36 such providers across New Zealand that include Bay providers the Salvation Army, Te Tuinga Whanau, Tauranga Community Housing Trust and Women's Refuge.
- People in dire need of housing should contact 0800 559 009 or visit www.msd.housing.govt.nz
- People seeking immediate shelter can access a Special Needs Grant for accommodation.
- The government is aiming to increase the number of social houses available, from 66,000 today to 72,000 by 2020.
What is the difference between social and transitional housing?
Both social and transitional housing may be run by community housing providers.
Transitional housing differs from social housing in that tenants generally only stay for 12 weeks in the property while they are helped to find long-term housing.
What is transitional housing?
It provides warm, secure short-term accommodation for people in need - along with tailored social support while they're there.
Transitional housing is not the same as emergency housing or the emergency housing special needs grant. The emergency housing special needs grant is a one-off grant to cover immediate housing costs for a period of seven days.
Families and individuals stay in transitional housing for an average of 12 weeks or more
while their needs are assessed and longer term housing is organised.
During that time, social support is provided to address issues they may face and to develop their skills to secure and sustain a long-term tenancy. Examples include health services or support with running a household, budgeting, cooking or parenting.
Once they move to longer-term accommodation, people receive a further 12
weeks' social support to help them stay securely housed.
Who provides transitional housing?
Transitional housing is managed by specialist housing providers, skilled in supporting
vulnerable tenants with a range of social and tenancy-related services. There are currently
36 housing providers across New Zealand that provide transitional housing.
The transitional housing programme is led by the Ministry of Social Development and
Housing New Zealand and involves local councils and emergency housing providers
right across New Zealand.
Number and type of transitional housing
It is anticipated there will be more than 2000 transitional housing places across New
Zealand by the year's end.
These places are in Auckland and other cities including Tauranga
Transitional housing is diverse. In some cases individual, stand-alone residential homes can be used for transitional housing. In other cases it may be larger developments, including former motels or purpose-built housing.