Hundreds of documents briefing new Government ministers on key policies have been released. Herald journalists have been analysing the Briefings to Incoming Ministers (Bims). Here we look at Homelessness.

Without a clear cross-sector approach to addressing homelessness, spending on emergency housing is expected to soar.

The demand for emergency housing caught state officials on the back foot and led to higher than expected spending on emergency placements, such as motels, a new report to the housing minister showed - a total of $21.6m spent in the six months to September this year.

And if nothing was done to address the issue of homelessness officials said this spending would continue to grow.


The statement was made in the briefing paper to the incoming minister, Phil Twyford, compiled by the five agencies with roles in state and social housing.

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Briefings to incoming ministers: The highlights

"Demand for emergency and transitional housing has considerably exceeded expectations and raises questions about social sector roles," the report read.

The briefing paper (BIM), titled housing and urban development, gave an overview of the state and social housing sector - including emergency and transitional housing.

It said in 2016 the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) had an expanded role in providing emergency homes - providing the first co-ordinated approach to the role.

However, it found motels were not suitable to provide emergency accommodation for vulnerable people and this led to "higher than anticipated expenditure on the Emergency Special Needs Grant".

The report put together by the five agencies with roles in the sector, including the MSD, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Housing New Zealand, Te Puni Kokiri and treasury, said spending on this grant had decreased in recent months as it looked to more transitional housing.

MSD hoped to increase its transitional housing places to 2155 by the end of this year which it said would reduce spending under the emergency grant.


But it said without increasing supply, the demand for emergency and transitional housing would continue.

"Additionally if rates of homelessness continue to increase we are likely to again see higher than anticipated expenditure."

It identified gaps in provision of services to those in the homeless community, which could not be fixed by housing alone.

Areas of concern rotated around how to help prisoners recently released, people with severe mental health issues and those with a disability, as well as the practice of eviction from social housing for "persistent antisocial or illegal behaviour".

It said this also raised questions about the role of state/social housing as a housing of last resort.